SOMERVILLE, NJ – Middle School students arrived for the first day of school Thursday and were greeted with a sidewalk mural of inspirational messages scrawled in chalk by their parents and friends Wednesday nigh t- and by their new principal, Anthony Benjamin.

Benjamin was on his hands and knees Wednesday along with parents performing the annual ritual, which also took place at the Van Derveer Elementary School.

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.

“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.