Luke Olswfsk, a 5th grader, displays his shell.

Last month found Bear Tavern students coloring seashells with a variety of hues. Their parents and teachers were glazing the shells and applying magnets. And these works of art were being sold to raise money for flood-ravaged schools on Long Beach Island and in Ventnor, shore towns affected by Hurricane Sandy.

“You’ve heard the expression ‘count your blessings?’ Well, when you do this project, you can feel fortunate for what you have and all that you didn’t lose,” said Joslyn Johnson, Bear Tavern’s art teacher and organizer of the project. “You’re using your creativity to help others, and that is the spirit of being a Bear Tavern student and an American.”

Johnson said she was looking for an art project students could do to assist Hurricane Sandy victims at the Jersey Shore. She found the seashell project online and immediately contacted Suzanne Tiedmann, a teacher in South Brunswick, involved in the project, to say that Bear Tavern would join in.

Bear Tavern Principal Bruce Arcurio suggested donating the money raised to schools on the Jersey Shore that were personal to the his staff. With that in mind, Bear Tavern is “adopting” three schools on LBI – Beach Haven Elementary, Ethel Jacobson Elementary, and Long Beach Island Elementary – which were hard hit by the storm, in addition to a school in Ventnor. Bear Tavern third grade teacher Tina Overman grew up on Long Beach Island, and her mother still works in the schools there. Gloria Miller, a resource teacher, has ties to the Ventnor school district.

In some classes, such as Miller’s room, students were making cards to send to the schools. Overman and other Bear Tavern staff are arranging drop-offs of food and materials and coordinating communication with the adopted schools.

The seashell magnets are being sold at Bear Tavern for $5 each, as well as at area merchants such as Pennington’s Front Porch, The Pennington Quality Market, and Getty Williams, and at community gatherings by groups such as Girls on the Run. All proceeds will go to the shore schools for the purchase of whatever supplies they need. The organizers hope to raise $4,000.

“It warms my heart to lead a school full of students with such compassion,” Arcurio said.

Contact Mrs. Johnson at for more information or to make a donation.

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