In 2022, Riverhead High School guidance counselor Jennifer Boese founded a new tradition at the school, a ‘Chalk the Walk’ event to support P.S. I Love You Day, a day bringing awareness to mental health issues.
This year, Riverhead Middle School joined in on the fun and had their own Chalk the Walk. Members of the National Junior Honor Society crafted their own uplifting messages and images outside the school’s main entrance.
Chalk The Walk is a hands-on experience where students, faculty and staff members craft a collection of uplifting messages and images for P.S. I Love You Day.
“This is an event to break the stigma attached to mental illness and bring additional positivity and acceptance to our community,” Ms. Boese said. “As a school counselor, community member, and mother of four young children, I see and hear a lot of difficult things on a daily basis. Everyone is going through their own battles both internally and externally, and sometimes, those battles go unnoticed. I tell my kids every morning that I love them, to make good choices, and to be kind, even when it is hard. P.S. I Love You Day resonates with this goal, and I have enjoyed raising additional mental health awareness and helping launch this school-wide initiative.”
This year, the event kicked off on Feb. 8 from 2 to 3 p.m. at Riverhead High School’s back entrance. On Feb. 9, teachers are encouraged to bring their classes outside to add to the collage of inspirational, kind messages.
P.S. I Love You Day was created in 2011 by West Islip high school graduate, Brooke DiPalma, who directs the organization along with her sister, Jaimie DiPalma. It was started about a year after they lost their father, Joseph DiPalma, to suicide in April 2010. Ms. DiPalma chose the phrase “I love you” because it was the last thing she and her father said to each other. More than 450 schools throughout the country commemorate the day annually on the second Friday of February, according to a participation list on the organization’s website.
Ms. Boese hopes to grow the event going forward.
“We can all use more positive days and reasons to smile,” Ms. Boese said. “We look forwards to further expanding this initiative throughout the district each year.”