Community members wrote messages — such as "Have a bright future" — on the sidewalks of Main Street for the Kutztown Class of 2021 at Chalk the Walk on graduation day June 4.
Sponsored by Kutztown Strong and Kutztown Community Partnership, Kutztown 7th graders organized the event as part of their social studies class. They were inspired by the work of Hallmark artist Lynn Giunta.
“Our goal is to celebrate the graduation of the seniors and to spread hope for the future,” said 7th grader Alyssa Heffelfinger.
“We wanted to congratulate the seniors and all that they went through,” said Haven Fegely. “We want to send a message of congratulations that they finally made it this far in their learning journey.”
“We really want to support the message of hope for the future and celebrate what they have and are going to accomplish,” said Elliot Johnson.
“I hope that it unites the community by just spreading hope,” said Clara Engel.
For a class assignment early in the school year, 7th graders wrote and designed posters in response to the prompt, "What are our collective hopes for the future?"
“At the beginning of the year we did a day just to be creative and spread a message,” said 7th grader Madelyn Maley. “We made inspirational messages with art and the kids loved it.”
“They thought it would be cool if they got the whole town to answer the question," said teacher Beth Patten, a member of Kutztown Strong and KCP.
KCP had reached out to the school district about working together to create a special day for seniors on graduation day.
“It was such an unprecedented school year with all the pandemic issues that it was mutually agreed that we could put a special day together, a positive event to help cap off a year that was so overwhelmed with problems associated with COVID-19,” said Douglas Wunder, Event and Office Manager at KCP.
KCP also approached Seth Noggle of Kutztown Strong and a sidewalk chalk mural contest for graduation was proposed, as well as a car parade. Working with Kutztown 7th graders, they set the theme of creating positive thoughts of the future.
“I feel the whole event surrounding the graduation is an ideal way to unite the community. It gets the whole area involved to come out and pay respects to the Class of 2021,” said Wunder. “At the same time it binds together different groups in town to work on creating a positive event; the Kutztown Community Partnership, Kutztown Strong, the Kutztown Area School Districts and a group of terrific 7th graders.”
Students created a poster and advertised the event on social media, requesting participants respond to the question "What is your hope for our future?" and post photos of their chalk messages on Kutztown Strong‘s Facebook Page and Instagram accounts using #ChalkTheWalkKtown for a chance to win a prize.
“Our goal was to spread positivity and kindness to the rest of our community to just simply lighten up their day,” said Tyler McGranahan.
“We hope that this unites the community by sharing kindness and positivity through chalk messages that everybody can see while passing by the chalk messages,” said 7th grader Tyler McGranahan.
“I hope it brings the community back together from all of the mayhem with the pandemic over this past year,” said 7th grader Olive Vos.