Sometimes, you don’t realize how much a tradition means to you until it’s gone.
“That was what I looked forward to most of middle school and I was pretty bummed that I missed out on it,” senior Allison Skeels said.
At Jefferson County Middle School, graduates have the privilege of leaving their mark year after year: a handprint frozen in time left on the wall of the hallways for everyone to see.
“Looking through all those hands on the walls, you know, I was really like, ‘Wow, I’m excited to put my hand on there,’” Madras senior Esteban Pacheco said. “You know, My brothers went there, and they put their hands. Now it’s my turn, you know?”
But in 2020, the pandemic hit, and the students never returned to class, meaning they never got their chance to do what so many other classes had done before them.
“In my head, you know, the realization like, ‘Wow. I never really got to put my hand on the wall, and that’s when it hit me,” Pacheco said. “I was like, ‘Wow, I’m really pretty, pretty upset.’”
As every year passed, the students started to think it wouldn’t happen. Now that the middle school class is getting ready to graduate high school, the kids returned to their old stomping ground to finish the long-running tradition.
“It was fun,” Skeels said. “It was nice to finally see my hand on the wall against all of my friends. And then we saw our eighth-grade pictures on the wall and I went back and looked at my older sisters and it was just kind of nostalgic.”
Since the students are seniors, their handprints are much bigger than the others. But to the seniors, they say they are just leaving a bigger mark.
“I want other middle schoolers to know and ask themselves why are their hands so different from ours and get surprised when somebody tells them the story,” said Pacheco.
More than 50 students from this forgotten class now have their legacy solidified in the hallways, finally experiencing the tradition first-hand.