T-Shirt Bears Slain Jersey Bridgeman’s Signature

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A Bentonville elementary school is selling a unique t-shirt to honor one of its own, Jersey Bridgeman, who was slain in November.

Funds will help teachers buy supplies, but some of the proceeds will go toward a memorial for the 6-year-old Bentonville girl.

The kindergarten class at Sugar Creek Elementary remembers 6-year-old Jersey Bridgeman with her handwritten signature on the shirt.

“The kids say she's an angel. A couple of them say Jersey's an angel now,” said Amanda Gotwalt, a kindergarten teacher at Sugar Creek Elementary.

Gotwalt said the whole class initially signed the t-shirt before Jersey's death for a class fundraising project. Because of limited space, teachers couldn't have all the students’ signatures, but left Jersey's handwriting.

Gotwalt said Jersey signed a poster really big to be used for the shirt..

“We did originally have them sign, and Jersey, on her day, she signed instead of inside the K, she signed all the way down the outside of the “K” really big,” said Gotwalt.

A week before she was killed, she learned to spell her last name.

“I think the week before, she had finally gotten the whole last name. Up until that point, at the beginning of the year, she was just Jersey, and then she was Jersey B," Gotwalt said. "And then we moved onto Jersey Bridge and the week before, she was working really hard and got the whole thing.

“So I think that was probably the first time that she had a chance just outside of a normal paper to write her full name, which I think is why she probably wrote it so big---she was so excited.”

The shirt is a class fundraising project used for teachers to buy classroom supplies.

“Because ours is going to be a little bit higher due to so many families wanting to have the shirt with Jersey's name on it, we would like to take some of the funds and do something here in the school building as a memorial to her,” explained Gotwalt.  “Perhaps a plaque, perhaps a statue. We talked about purple tulips because she did love purple and they would come back each year, and we the teachers and students would know what they are there for.”

Jersey was found killed Nov. 20, two houses down from where she lived.

Jersey's accused killer, Zachary Holly, has pleaded not guilty. He is in the Benton County Jail and is scheduled to be in court later this month.

For more information on how you can get a t-shirt, call Sugar Creek at (479) 254-5790 or visit http://sugarcreek.bentonvillek12.org/

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