Oct. 18, 2023: They started out around the school, fixing High School South's bleachers and the benches for the softball team.
Then they forged custom-made cornhole boards for school staff, friends, and local businesses.
In 2022, they built much-needed lifeguard stands for Ortley Beach.
Now, their most recent project: a giant Adirondack chair for downtown Toms River.
Each year, students enrolled in Project SPEAR-IT-- the HSS CTE and construction program funded by the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties (UWMOC)-- envision a capstone project, something to help improve the school, people's lives, or the broader community. That vision progressed from utilitarian projects to, this year, more of an artistic endeavor, although all of the work these students undertake requires some serious skills.
This time around, the Toms River Artists Community (TRAC) served as the project partner and guiding force.
"We all had a hand in this," said TRAC's Lisa Cifaretto, referring to her organization, UWMOC, M&T Bank, Toms River Township and, of course, the student builders. "And I am so very proud about that."
Although the giant chair has already become a main attraction and optimal photo op, everyone involved in its creation came together today in downtown Toms River for an official ribbon cutting and celebration.
"This is a big event for Toms River," said Cifaretto. "This represents the first piece of art being donated to the 'Arts District' in Downtown."