Brian Kwan, a junior high and high school government teacher at Anaheim Discovery Christian School in California, has a special assignment he gives students every year for fun.
But this year, it was suddenly called into question by the internet, when one of his students went on a mission to seriously complete it.
Kwan told BuzzFeed News he offers the same "extra credit" assignment to every class he teaches.
The assignment is this: "Any student that can bring Katy Perry to this school and have her talk to me, you get an automatic A+ for my class; a video of her talking and saying my name (shout-out) get [sic] you an automatic B+."
Kwan, who's been teaching at the school for five years, presents the assignment to each class through a PowerPoint. He claims he came up with the idea initially as a "complete joke" and a way to "relate" to his young students.
"I thought, 'What kind of an assignment that can get them to laugh but at the same time have a shot at it — be it a long shot?'" he said. "I am a fan of her music and totally enjoyed her Teenage Dream album, along with her Prism album. It was then that I was inspired to create this assignment and have the students at least know I have heard of her."
No students had yet completed the assignment or made a real attempt to get Perry's attention. But this year, one of Kwan's students, 17-year-old Jonathan Delos Angeles, tweeted it out, asking Twitter to "please do your thing" to help him.
"If we get katy perry to our class we will get an A+ if it’s a shout-out then we get a B!! twitter please do your thing," he tweeted last month. He then tweeted directly at the singer to see if she was able to record herself saying "Hi Mr. Kwan."
Over the last few weeks, his tweet has gone viral.
Angeles told BuzzFeed News he didn't think much of the assignment when Kwan introduced it, but he figured he'd give it a shot via the power of social media.
"I did not expect it to happen anytime soon, so I gave it a shot on Twitter," he said, adding that he did not really have an issue with the assignment "because [Kwan] still teaches the necessary requirements to pass his class."
He found it "fun" and a way to boost his grade. However, not everyone on social media reacted the same way.
in our government class if we get katy perry to our class we will get an A+ if it’s a shout-out then we get a B!! twitter please do your thing
At first, Perry fan accounts were delighted by the task, and even jealous. People joked that Kwan was a secret stan himself.
But then the tone changed. People were confused by the real intention of the assignment and did not find much humor in it. "It might be wise to ditch the idea of a Katy visit and actually learn," one person wrote.
"Can y'all ..... not just ..... take your classes and get a damn education ??" someone else tweeted.
Some are even accusing Kwan of abusing his power and "bribing" his students for his own self-interest.
This is beyond weird and an abuse of authority https://t.co/FltKpgYNvY
why don’t y’all just do ur homework https://t.co/yNspWZwymG
To these critics, Kwan maintains that this is a "completely fun" assignment, and that it should not be taken more seriously than that.
"Students were not required to do any part of this. They can earn their grade based on their own merit of hard work and exams," he said. "If something comes out of this, cool! If not, hey a person can dream, right? Like I tell my students, dream big [and] shoot for the stars."
He added that he was mostly trying to engage his students, which is a challenge that educators are not recognized for enough, he said.
"Teachers do so much just to teach and make things memorable for students, why not have some fun? I don't see any harm or foul in this optional assignment."
Despite its "fun" and voluntary nature, Kwan also believes it can teach his students a real lesson about social media.
"I believe this assignment can show them how powerful social media is, and I want them to see and learn that all it takes is something small that can become huge," he said.
Some people online joked that Kwan may have unintentionally showed his students the real mechanisms of governance.
The irony that for government class the teacher is teaching you that if you can bribe someone in power you can get what you want and fuck hard work. https://t.co/YgrDNVOrhH