Four weeks after the tragic death of beloved teacher and community member Colleen Ritzer, Andover High School has decided to take action to show school-wide respect.

Sales of the “Remembering Ritzer” pink T-shirts will benefit the scholarship fund named for Colleen Ritzer. (Courtesy Photo)
Sales of the “Remembering Ritzer” pink T-shirts will benefit the scholarship fund named for Colleen Ritzer. (Courtesy Photo)

Students from Ms. Robb’s Democracy and Media Literacy class and Mr. Brennan’s TV Production class will be set up at the kiosk during all four lunches through Tuesday, Nov. 26, to sell pink t-shirts with the words “Remembering Ritzer” on the front. Pink was Ritzer’s favorite color. The back of the t-shirts feature Ritzer’s favorite quote, “No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.” Above the quote are displayed the dates of Ritzer’s life: Jan. 1, 1989 to Oct. 23, 2013.

The t-shirts are being sold for $10 each, and all proceeds will go to the Colleen Ritzer Scholarship Fund. T-shirts will also be available to the general public of Andover. The town of Danvers and Danvers High School, where Ritzer taught math, are running their own T-shirt/fundraiser for Ritzer.

Ms. Robb, a history teacher at AHS, is one of the teachers who started the T-shirt drive. “Mr. Brennan and I were talking at Colleen’s funeral, and we thought that the T-shirts would be a great idea to spread awareness,” said Robb. “There had been a T-shirt thing before, so we figured we would do the same type of thing.”

Robb believes that the T-shirts will bring some people in the community together but will still be hard to process for others, since many people are unsure how to feel about the tragedy.

Mr. Brennan, the other teacher involved with the Ritzer fund and T-shirt drive, expressed strong praise for Colleen Ritzer. “Colleen was a very special person. Anytime I think of her, I see her glowing smile,” says Brennan, who attended AHS at the same time. “Hopefully these shirts will keep her legacy alive forever, while also raising a lot of money for her scholarship.”

The AHS pep rally (on November 27) and the Feaster Five road race (on Thanksgiving) are the prime events at which students, teachers, and members of the community may wear their shirts in reflection of Ritzer. “I think it’s a great idea,” said AHS senior Dana Mandell of the T-shirts. “It raises awareness and also contributes to the scholarship fund.”

Before the T-shirts were made, several students and teachers took up the old “cup” tradition by placing red cups on the fence of the newly renovated AHS tennis courts. The message reads, “C.O.R,” Ritzer’s initials, and features a heart symbol next to it.

The AHS Interact Club, a club that comes together to work, plan, and carry out community service projects, has also devoted time to fundraising for the Ritzer fund. They began a fundraising campaign called “Our Hearts Go Out”; money was collected during all four lunches and each donor was given a heart to write a personalized note of condolence. “Altogether, we have raised over $1,000 for the scholarship fund,” said Interact Club president Ali Hale. “Interact Club thought this was a cause that spoke to Andover High School, and the club is so proud to show our support.”

By Ian Bensley