The more students I've seen complete this tradition, the more I've noticed how the hand prints have different meaning for different students. For some, it's just something neat they've seen other people do before. For others, its an act of defiance as they leave their mark on a school they're eager to leave. For still more, it's a symbol of all their other accomplishments in the classroom, in the gym, or on the field, and of course, for some, it's a celebration of the fact that, despite all odds, they have actually made it to graduation. Some see it as a chance to reflect this particular moment of their senior year as they clump together with their friends or try to position their print next to their boyfriend/girlfriend. Some see it as a long play and try to choose a spot that will naturally draw eyes over the coming years. As they leave and ultimately return, many still gravitate towards their old prints, some out of embarrassment, others out of pride, but all out of nostalgia as if to point to some physical lasting representation that they were here, and that what they did meant something.
Who's to say how long this tradition will continue. We could mark up every wall in the building, or we could start to erase the handprints long before the children of the first class walk these halls. In the same way, the whole high school experience fades very quickly for some, and lasts forever for others. For these seniors, the die has been cast and they await the verdict of time. The underclassmen, however, peer from the wings and wait to leave their marks; however broad or narrow they may be.