A conex-style shipping container used to store lifeguard and beach equipment at the Third Avenue parking lot in Ortley Beach has traded in its Spartan look to become a work of art, courtesy of township students.
Toms River High School East art students have been working all week to paint the storage container, which many residents viewed as something of an eyesore, and create a mural with a positive message for beachgoers. The work was almost completed by the end of the day Wednesday, with some finishing touches to the signature Ortley Beach dolphin and an outline to the wording still to come.
Within a few days, the shipping container has become a piece of art, with a beautiful mural that depicts a beach with the tagline, “Leave Nothing but Footprints…Keep Ortley Beach Clean.”
“Few things leave us as satisfied as seeing our students using their creativity, talents, and imagination to make a difference in the community,” said Assistant schools superintendent Patrick Thomas, who visited the site this week to check on students’ progress. “They’ve turned an eyesore into a beach landmark, and I couldn’t be more proud.”
The students’ work received high praise from members of the community, some of whom expressed their appreciation at a township council meeting Wednesday night.
“This was an ugly storage container, and these students did such a wonderful job,” said resident Paul Jeffrey, who also serves as an official with the Ortley Beach Voters and Taxpayers Association. “It started with an idea just to paint the container, then someone had the great idea to add the art.”
High School East art teacher Katie Koenigstein spearheaded the effort. Along with her school colleagues Bill Dishon, Erin Calicchio, Kristen DeVuyst, and Jennifer Fazzini, Koenigstein and 20 East students utilized their art skills, passion, and sense of community to make a difference – one that will be seen by potentially hundreds of thousands of visitors this summer.
The mural is the second project in which the school district has partnered with Ortley Beach – a concerted effort as the neighborhood grows. Last season, High School South students built nine sturdy lifeguard stands which are in use again this season.