Barnegat Township School District art students are blending their imaginations and abilities to bring “monsters” to life.

The Creature Creation Project bridges grade levels as an example of the district’s “One Barnegat” approach. Students from Barnegat High School and Robert L. Horbelt Intermediate School teamed up for the artistic adventure, with the younger students drawing monsters, and the older students sculpting or sketching the same creatures.

The idea was inspired by the Monster Project, an international collaboration between artists and elementary schools to encourage children’s creativity. 

For the BTSD version, fifth-graders in Maria Altomare’s class started by dreaming up creatures. The students were asked to draw their creatures and write a descriptive paragraph about them, outlining their personalities, characteristics and habitats – all the facts the high school art students needed to bring these imaginary creatures to life.

Once the fifth-graders handed off their creations, Barnegat High School advanced ceramic and drawing students in the classes taught by Astin Williams and Nina Polcino took the pieces to the next level. Creating sculptures and more refined drawings, the high school students elaborated on the fifth-graders’ ideas, infusing their own touches to each creature. But the projecdidn’t stop there. Recording arts students then composed original soundtracks to match each creature, making the project even more of a sensory experience.

At the end of the day, by doing this project, I want my students to see that art is fluid; art is versatile; art is interpretive,” Williams said. The Creature Creation project has become more than just an assignment for us. It has become an immersive experience that we have connected with.

The students from both schools came together during a special breakfast at the high school on March 28 to see the results of their collaboration. The projects will be displayed from concept to reality as part of the high school’s art gallery. The high school art students will get to meet the fifth-graders who inspired their work, and all the students will be recognized at a board of education meeting as the district continues celebrating Youth Art Month.

To know that this project was inspired in part by our One Barnegat’ slogan is just incredible,” said Superintendent Dr. Brian Latwis. “I’m always so proud of all of our students, but I’m constantly blown away by their continued creativity.  We have the best teachers and staff who are always finding new ways to motivate and inspire our students, and this collaborative effort is a shining example of that.”