SHINGLEHOUSE — The Oswayo Valley community had the opportunity to express their grief while honoring a beloved teacher who died tragically in a work related accident early last week.

Major Lance Newton, a physical education and health teacher at the Oswayo Valley Middle/High School for 23 years, was working for a Shinglehouse tree removing company to remove a large pine tree at the Eulalia Cemetery when the tree fell on to the bucket truck and caused Newton to fall out, killing him.

As a way to help the community grieve and remember Newton, the Oswayo Valley School District invited the public to draw chalk art and write messages in remembrance of Newton in the high school parking lot last week. Julie Hall, Oswayo Valley elementary principal, said

The first people to participate arrived just after 8 a.m. Friday, Julie Hall, Oswayo Valley elementary principal, said. They drew Newton’s motorcycle in his parking spot by tracing one of their bikes.

“It’s so nice to see the kids, there are some nice messages here,” Hall said. “The kids really needed this; they needed to talk a little.”

Hall said the idea came from the students. A member of the faculty saw some seventh graders in the parking lot of the school and when she asked them what they were doing, they said they wanted to come to the school because they felt so bad about Mr. Newton.

“They said, ‘Would it be OK if we wrote notes in chalk to him?,” Hall said. The faculty checked with the administration and it was organized. Several community members donated chalk for anyone to use.

Newton was a retired Major of the U.S. Army, so several American Flags were drawn, and messages like, “Thank you for your service” and “Hero” were written throughout the parking lot. Some students and alumni wrote messages thanking him for encouraging them and for making school fun. Others wrote some of Newton’s catchphrases and drew hearts.