Student Life Editor
As of the last few weeks, “Sweet Caroline” and chants of “U.S.A.!” reigned across America. Flags were raised, flown and stretched proudly across the country.
And on Thursday, April 25, the stars and stripes were chalked onto Appian Way at Keene State College for the annual Chalk Talk. Sophomore and KSC Student Government Vice President Sean Ballard coordinated Chalk Talk and said KSC’s event is a way for people and members of the student body to express their emotions.
“Usually Chalk Talk is the same day as [the] Carnival; however, this year we decided to switch it up and do Chalk Talk on a separate weekend because we thought exactly for this purpose—it would get people more aware of what Chalk Talk really is and why it’s an important part of our community here at Keene,” Ballard said.
Ballard explained it’s not just about getting the free food and hanging out with friends.
“It’s a way of drawing with the chalk, sharing your emotions.”
“Emotions,” Ballard stated, are related to Chalk Talk’s theme, which changes each year. The 2013 Chalk Talk Theme: America.
“It’s a way for people to express their patriotism, so whether people draw America’s flag—just stuff like that,” he said. Sophomore Ryan Sullivan attended Chalk Talk and said he appreciated this year’s theme.
“It certainly helps right now with the couple of events that happened recently. I think it’s good to keep strong like this,” he said. Likewise, sophomore Jessica French, a member of student Government who helped promote the event, commented on this year’s theme as being “appropriate.”
“Especially with everything that’s been going on lately,” French said, “I think it’s great that we picked America as a theme.” One way Keene represented the U.S. of A was through the food the dining commons provided. Ballard worked with Sodexo’s executive chef Rich Ducharme to prepare a menu that would reflect popular American foods within specific regions of the county. “The first step of Chalk Talk is coming up with a menu,” Ballard said, “We thought America would be great with Sandy Hook Elementary and now Boston. They [the dining commons] were very gung-ho about it.” Ballard explained the food in terms of the “four corners of America,” for example, a Philadelphia station with Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches and California pizza, and of course, churros.
Josef Quirinale, the general manager for the Zorn Dining Commons, said he liked the America theme and said he and his staff always try to look at food from an educational standpoint. “This shows foods from different areas of the country and I think that’s cool,” Quirinale said, “I’d like to think the student response is very good. It’s rare that you see this many students in one spot milling around like this and it’s continuous for almost two hours. I think the energy is pretty good.” French praised Sodexo for the food and said, “I think it’s really good. Sodexo did a really great job. I helped plan out the food and I think everything came out so well I’m really happy with how it came out.”
While students walked through on their way to class or stopped to grab some food and sit on the grass with their friends, their peers drew maps of the United States and American flags and various other supportive notions along Appian Way. Tables were not provided for students to sit—rather the idea was to mingle and bumping into friends. Sophomore Mary Temple said she liked the fact that there were no tables like there are in the fall for the family style dinner.
Temple said, “I like how we have no tables. I feel like this way we can meet more people this way; we bump into people and say hi. I feel like it’s a little more social, rather than staying tighter with your own clique at a table. I feel like the school is getting bigger and more people are attending.” Junior Jimmy Norris commented, “I feel like it’s going to be a good time. There’s a lot of people walking around. There are no tables to sit around. It seems pretty cool that everyone’s walking around.”
At the event, sophomore Student Body President Kelly Welch commented on Chalk Talk’s success. “It is going extremely well. A lot of people are excited because they say the food is delicious. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on the food this year which is great—definitely a big variety which is good.”
She continued and said the student’s energy around the theme and the food was positive and upbeat.
Sophomores French and Bridget Goodwin echoed Welch’s enthusiasm. French conlcuded, “I think everyone’s really excited, really happy to be eating food on this beautiful day.”
Sophomore Bridget Goodwin said the food and the atmosphere of Chalk Talk was “awesome.”
“I think it’s awesome with everything going on recently it’s good to kind of remember and show your country support. I think it’s so much fun, there’s so many people out right now. It’s nice to have all your friends together and who doesn’t want to draw with chalk?”
Julie Conlon can be contacted at