SOMERVILLE, NJ – Parents, teachers, siblings, even principals got down on their hands and knees Wednesday night outside the Van Derveer School and Somerville Middle School to “Chalk the Walk” with comforting and inspirational messages to students who arrived early Thursday morning for the first day of the 2018-19 school year.

The Somerville PTO came up with the idea and welcomed the sidewalk artists with buckets of colored chalk outside the K-5th grade Van Derveer Elementary School and the 6-8th grade Somerville Middle School.

The sidewalk chalk artists labored under a hot sun but no one seemed to mind as they set to work.

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“This was a positive, uplifting, and creative way for parents, siblings, and district staff to welcome students back to a new school year,” said Tim Teehan, Superintendent of Somerville Public Schools

“Parents have so many commitments and some may not be able to make the first day of school drop-off with their children,” said Robert Reavey, Principal Van Derveer Elementary School Grades 3-5. "The PTO created an amazing opportunity for parents to share messages of encouragement with the students on their first day of school,” he added.

Third grade teacher Joelle Kessler enjoyed watching the parents at work outside Van Derveer.

“The parents genuinely had fun! I loved seeing parents having fun and really getting into it. I’m so eager to see the excitement on the kids’ faces.”

Social media was abuzz with proud, satisfied parents commenting on "Chalk the Walk."

"Something to be said about this little town better known as "The 'Ville."

"Somerville PTO had an idea and we ran with it."

"This was so much fun. Hope the kids love it."