Senior Levi Van Haitsma held out his hand while Maggie Burmania evenly painted his palm with a coat of yellow paint. Van Haitsma found a place high on the wall and firmly pressed his painted hand to the block wall then carefully lifted it to reveal his unique print. Classmate Ethan Kriekaard did the same thing – only his hand was painted in a salmon pink color. With permanent markers, both added their names alongside their hand prints.
For three days during lunch hours, seniors lined up to have their hands painted and leave their mark – in blue, yellow, green and pink – on the wall.
“A lot of the activities have been canceled this year because of COVID and all the safety concerns. It’s been hard to plan anything with students in and out of school. We felt for the senior class this year so we brainstormed a way to create a new senior tradition – something that’s safe and we can do without worrying about it being canceled,” said senior student council member Megan Chinavare.
Burmania, another senior student council member, said she loves the idea. “This is our graduating year and this will stay here as our legacy. It will be kind of fun to come back some time and see our handprints still here,” she said.
Seniors will add “Class of 2021” in an opening left among the handprints. The newly-decorated wall is in the highly visible cafeteria hallway where students line up daily for lunch. “It’s going to be seen by everyone,” said Burmania.
With COVID restrictions in place throughout the year students have not been able to do many of the annual activities and traditions. There were no all-school pep rallies, no homecoming events or dance, no Snowcoming court or dance. It’s been a tough year for all students as they’ve run the obstacle course created by COVID protocols, testing, quarantines and even shut downs.
“I’m excited to add color to this hallway and just to see all our names and handprints up there,” said Chinavare. “This is how we leave our mark at our high school.”
Burmania and Chinavare said they were very thankful for support from administration for the project. “We know they’ve (administrators) been struggling too, to find ways for seniors to celebrate our last year. We really appreciate that they were willing to let us do this.”
As the wall became covered with more and more handprints, Burmania and Chinavare took a step back and eyed the work. “I like it. It makes me feel good and it makes me feel like our class won’t be forgotten,” said Burmania.