Bath High School’s Chalkboard Project creates a welcoming environment

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BATH – After weeks of seeing negative and hurtful comments on walls throughout the school, Bath High School students covered them with kind words.

Ann Koch

Positive, complimentary comments covered up the insults that students and teachers said they had previously heard.

The Chalkboard Project took over the walls of Bath High School in March, a project where students and teachers posed holding a chalkboard of a slur, offensive or rude comment directed at them. On April 3, those words were covered with kind, encouraging and helpful words to bury the effects of bullying and bring kindness to campus.

“We did the same chalkboard project in 2018, so this is the second time we’ve done it,” said Ann Koch, who orchestrated the project. “We wanted each freshman to senior to have a chance to do it so this year’s crop is new, they didn’t get to do it in 2018.” 

On the morning of April 3, right after students returned from spring break, all chalkboard portraits were covered in sticky notes. Students roamed the halls and wrote complimentary words and phrases, restoring  confidence to themselves and their peers.

Koch participated in the project as well. Her chalkboard read “fat” originally, but was replaced by words “bubbly,”  “compassionate” and “pretty.”

“It’s inspiring, it’s positivity. There’s so much negative in the world now,” said Koch.

“It helps translate the negative connotations that they’ve had into positive ones.”

Bath High School senior Maddie Johnson enjoyed the project. She originally had a chalkboard that said “high maintenance” but was covered up with words calling her “beautiful,”  “extraordinary,” “intelligent” and even got the compliment of “great eyelashes.” 

“I found it really eye-opening to be able to see all of the words that are being spread around not only our school but our community in a negative way. It really opened my eyes to how much we impact others,” said Johnson. “When we went around and wrote on the boards, it really shows how much our community can really come together to change people’s perspective on themselves.”

Johnson said the words she received on her sticky notes she “could not even imagine” thinking of herself.

“I even got to socialize with people that don’t put themselves out there as much,” said Johnson. “Everyone in our school was involved, everyone was writing nice things on it.”

Senior Colin Scheib had only positive things to say about the project.

“It was a really wonderful project. Just being able to see the words that have hurt my friends, and just being able to turn those into more positive experiences for them,” said Scheib. “When I was walking through the halls, I was really excited to be able to just tell my closest friends how important they are to me, and this was a great opportunity to be able to do that.”

Scheib originally received the label of “twig,” which was later replaced with the word “strong”.

The overall atmosphere of the school and students was happier, according to Scheib. The original portraits were on the walls for several weeks, and the change of scenery from rude to kind had a great impact on the school. 

“My friends were a lot happier that day,” said Scheib. “Some of them expressed more happiness throughout the week after that happened.”

“It made me feel warm inside. It made me feel welcomed and loved in our school,” said Johnson.

The Chalkboard Project brought an overall positive experience to students and staff and made the school feel more comfortable to them.

At the rate the project is going, it is projected to occur again in the 2026-27 school year.

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