“It really relates to what high schoolers and everyone else goes through,” Anderson said. “If you focus on what everyone else is saying to you, you're not going to know what you want.”
Carleigh Gierhart said she hadn't tried writing poetry until she wrote the poem she chalked on Thursday. With encouragement from her classmates, she seemed to lose any fear of sharing.
“This was the first poem that I wrote, and I felt really confident about it,” Gierhart said.
She said she was stuck at home with writer's block and a radio tuned to a Christian music station when she got the idea to include Scripture. She drew her poem in blue, with asterisks on every other line linking to different parts of the Bible.
“Even when I'm continually messing up / You are constantly forgiving me,” she wrote.
Michael Cote also wrote his own poem.
“I wrote about the Virginia Tech massacre because it shows deep feeling and a lot of loss,” he said.
Cote, who plays basketball and football, remembered watching a game that included a candlelight memorial service after the shooting, and when he was up late recently, searching for a powerful subject, that's what he remembered.
“With pain as sharp as the tip of a sword / The crying echoed, fear tiptoed,” he wrote in big, red letters.
Mixed in with the originals and lesser known pieces were poems by Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Frost. Dr. Seuss' “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” got loose and traveled in a line between neighboring verses before ending abruptly on the side of a building.
Johnson said he hopes the power of poetry will last a little longer than the chalk on the sidewalk.
“Trying something new that they end up loving is what it's all about to me,” he said.