School Board to chalk artist: You'll have an answer – later

Staff writerJune 10, 2014 

Sterling Norris brought her request to the Clover Park School Board Tuesday night.

DEBBIE CAFAZZO — Staff writer

Sterling Norris will have to chalk this one up to experience.

With the clock on the school year ticking down, the Lakewood third-grader brought her request to the Clover Park School Board Tuesday night, asking for permission to draw pavement chalk art during recess at her school, Custer Elementary.

The board’s answer: We’ll get back to you.

Board President Marty Schafer explained that its procedure is to listen to public comment, then supply an answer to questions at a subsequent meeting. The board is scheduled to meet next on June 23 – 10 days after Friday’s last day of school.

Sterling said she’s hopeful she might get a positive answer for next year.

Her mom, Deidre Norris, said she’s disappointed in how long it’s taking to hear from the school board.

“But I’m happy with the experience,” she said. “She’s learning a lot.”

Sterling’s civics lesson began when she asked her teacher and principal for permission to chalk during recess. They were told that the school district’s maintenance department had vetoed the idea, citing cleaning difficulties and the potential that chalk art might attract more permanent graffiti.

Sterling first went to the school board May 27, shortly after coming up with her idea. But when she showed up that night with her mom, they learned the board had scheduled a study session where public testimony wasn’t allowed.

Sterling, her parents and grandparents returned Tuesday night. 

“Children can invent their own games through chalk drawing,” the girl told the board. Those games could allow them to “exercise their imaginations and their bodies,” she added.

Sterling said she was nervous speaking to a room full of adults. Even though she didn’t get an immediate answer, she was rewarded with applause from the audience and praise from Schafer, who told her she “did a wonderful job representing her viewpoint.”

Ever since Sterling’s story was featured last weekend in The News Tribune, her mom has been hearing from people who want to support the student and her art. One man asked her to create an outdoor chalk drawing at his home for Fourth of July. And Deidre Norris said Sterling and her friends have been invited to chalk at the Lakewood Police Department after school lets out.

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