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Chalking with a Passion


[dropcap size=small]C[/dropcap]halk is a seemingly temporary material. It doesn’t stain the streets for more than a few days and after a hearty rain, it washes away like it was never there. However, on On Saturday, September 12, 2020 at 5:00, Paso Robles High School Bearcats proved that the impact of chalk lasts much longer than its time on the sidewalk. 

    President of the Black Student Union, Kelen Macharia felt a smile creep into an unseen grin underneath her mask as the event began. With the sound of music pumping in the air and the colorful dust of chalk on her finger tips, she looked to her left and right. The once barren and grey sidewalk of Centennial Park, was now covered with art and people making art with chalk.

“We did the chalk event in order to spread the message of equality and use our voices in a good and peaceful way,” the junior said. “Connection is also really important to us right now so I thought this was a great way to socially distance while speaking out.”

   BSU and ACT club were the architects for this event, which they entitled #Chalk Paso. They used Instagram and virtual flyers to publicize and initially didn’t expect a large turn out, estimating five or six people coming at the most. 

    “I was surprised [at the turn out]. ACT club and BSU were just getting started this year and our club meetings are kind of small but we had a lot of people show up,” Cheyenne Holiday, founder of the Activist Coalition of Tomorrow, said. “Plus everyone was really respectful about the mask and social distancing rules and I really do appreciate that.”

Despite these conditions, students still came to chalk messages like, “no justice, no peace”, “black lives matter”, and even a rendition of a hopscotch with love, equality, and unity written inside the squares. By the time the sun began to set, the sidewalks of Centennial were caked with chalk, and the desolate, grey concrete that had once been the walkways of the park was now a gallery of vibrant art.


Holiday, a senior, spoke about how COVID has affected speaking out in her community and ACT club’s numbers. 

“It’s been kind of hard to figure out what to do and how to stay motivated especially because our club is very active, we go out and spread the word about defending our passions,” Holiday said.

She also mentioned that social media has been a powerful resource for them- specifically for communication- and that she remains positive that even during COVID-19, ACT club will still be able to make a difference.

A virtual flyer that ACT Club and BSU used to promote their Paso Chalk Art Event.

Alisa Bredensteiner and Geoffrey Land, club advisors to BSU and ACT respectively, continued this conversation from their perspectives. 

“On one hand it’s easier for anyone to join the club because they can just jump into the zoom call you don’t have to come into a classroom,” Bredensteiner stated. “While on the other hand when we want to actually go outside and do something that’s activist related, even out here in this outdoor space, it’s hard to keep ourselves safe.”

Wearing a mask and maintaining six feet of social distance was mandatory to participate in the #Chalk Paso event.

Land highlighted how students have adapted to their current situations in order to overcome the new challenges facing them in a world struck by COVID-19.

“I think the students are realizing that there is still a lot you can do to move forward with their ideals and their values,” he said.

Both Holiday and ACT club plan on continuing the #Chalk Paso, as the September event was described as the first of the many to come in their chalk art movement.

As the day came to a close and their pieces of bright chalk was shaved down to only tiny bits of color, those who attended the first #Chalk Paso looked down at their handiworks. They understood that chalk didn’t last forever. Yet it was clear that they knew that the messages of peace and justice they shared with their community would.


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