Grad celebrations this year may look different due to COVID but B.C.’s oldest high school was determined to keep a decades-old tradition going.
“It’s a long-standing tradition here at Vic High that graduates get to come up here and leave their mark,” says Victoria High School principal Aaron Parker.
Literally, leave their mark, on the attic walls of the historic building.
“It kind of feels surreal, I guess, seeing so many people from years ago signing it and now us signing it,” says student Karla Estrada. “It’s been so long!”
At first, graduating students start sneaking up decades ago for the attic signing, then sometime in the 1970s, the school says it became a tradition that all grads got to sign a little piece of the living history.
“It’s really emotional,” says international student Elisa Pera, tearing up. “This has been a second home for me and I’ll be very sad to leave this place.”
“It makes me realize how many special things happen at this school and in this building and I signed, ‘This is the best year of my life’ cause it actually was,” adds international student Serena Girotti.
Every nook and cranny of this cavernous space is covered — upwards of 20,000 or so signatures — and a lasting legacy COVID-19 wasn’t going to stop.
“Not being able to celebrate that Vic High tradition?” asks Parker. “It’s heartbreaking and for us to be able to do this is at least something to give back.”
Students were brought up to sign in small groups over the courses of the last week of school to leave their mark, for generations to come.
“We always knew we’re part of Vic High, we’re welcome and loved here, but putting our name down, being part of this building physically is something really special,” says co-valedictorian Dilan Ilhan.
Attic signing. It’s a rite of passage the school hopes to continue for another 100 years, once seismic upgrades are done.