A Rochester city school is encouraging students and families to spread positive messages in their community. It all starts with a piece of chalk.

On what would have been one of the last days of classes, School 45 on Clifford Avenue welcomed back its kids.

What You Need To Know

  • Rochester's School 45 has been encouraging people to leave positive messages on sidewalks 

  • The messages range from words of love, hope and, unity to phrases like Black Lives Matter

  • Chalk Walk for Peace was intended to start discussions and heal tensions in the city 

“I’m so excited,” said Jen Wolford, a first-grade teacher. “I’m so excited. A lot of my students are coming in. I've been missing them so much, so I can't wait to see them.”

With schools closing in mid-March due to COVID-19, it’s been a long time since students had a chance to express themselves.

With chalk in hand, students, parents, and teachers left messages of love, peace, and unity on the sidewalk. 

The words and images carry weight.

“It means a lot, man,” said Willie Mason, a school safety officer. 

Many of the messages also included phrases like 'Black Lives Matter' and references to George Floyd, the black man allegedly killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

“This chalk walk is a good thing for the children,” said Tanisha Allen, a parent. “I think a lot of children were terrified by the events last week.”

“All lives can’t matter until black lives matter,” said Delaney Hoodak, whose mother is a teacher at the school. “So we all need to change society and change the system.”

The event, called Chalk Walk for Peace, was intended to spark discussions to help heal tensions in Rochester, which have included several protests, and the looting of several businesses a week-and-a-half ago — including some in the neighborhood where the school is located.

“It does all start with one step,” said Dr. Robert Snyder, School 45 principal. “I’m hoping this is the first step towards starting to engage in tough conversations. You can't have progress without those tough conversations.”

“We have cars on Clifford Avenue that ride on by, and they can see the message, as well as the ones that are walking,” said Mason. “So it's a beautiful thing.”

Beauty — created by the hands and minds of children.

“It’s important for the kids to think of their own messages to put out here,” said parent Elise Maddox. “That’s how it sticks in their head.”

In a world full of color, there is so much more than just black and white.