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Florence Rideout students complete COVID-delayed ritual

  • Noah Lumibao writes his name on brickwork. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Sixth grade students returned to Florence Rideout Elementary School on Thursday to write their names in the FRES attic, a tradition that goes back decades, that their class missed out on due to the closing of schools in the spring. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Chris Mannarino picks out a likely spot to leave his name. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Sixth grade students returned to Florence Rideout Elementary School on Thursday to write their names in the FRES attic, a tradition that goes back decades, that their class missed out on due to the closing of schools in the spring. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Sixth grade students returned to Florence Rideout Elementary School on Thursday to write their names in the FRES attic, a tradition that goes back decades, that their class missed out on due to the closing of schools in the spring. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative seniors Anabelle Bergstrom and Sam Yurcak of Wilton search for the names they left on a post as sixth graders. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Sam Yurcak of Wilton searches for names she recognizes on the chimney in the attic of Florence Rideout Elementary School. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/12/2020 4:54:09 PM
Modified: 10/12/2020 4:53:57 PM

It’s part of Florence Rideout Elementary School lore. At the end of each school year, the fifth-graders make their way to a mysterious part of the school they’ve never seen before – the attic – and make their mark, signing their names onto brickwork and wooden pillars.

Every class, except the class of 2027, which spent its fifth-grade spring in the midst of online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, they made their marks, after all. 

During a Fall Festival for students hosted on the Florence Rideout Elementary School Flat, busses from the Wilton-Lyndeborough Middle School brought back last year’s FRES students, so they could make their promised trip to the attic to add their names in Sharpie to the walls and wood, joining classes as far back as 1923. The walls and wooden beams are filled with names scrawled in chalk, in paint, in marker, even some ephemeral scrawls in the dust, some big and bold, others neatly printed.

FRES fifth-grade teacher Erin Stewart met up with some of her returning students to watch them add their names.

“It’s exciting for them, because no one goes up there, ever, they don’t even really know it exists. But once they get to the fifth grade, they start to hear about it,” Stewart said. Usually, she said, someone will be told about the tradition from a sibling, and then it becomes an event to look forward to.

“They get in there, and they want to sign their name, but they also want to look for their siblings, or sometimes even their parents. It’s a multi-generational thing,” Stewart said. “It’s special. As you’re leaving, it’s how you make your mark on the school.”

Anabelle Bergstrom and Sam Yurcak of Wilton, Wilton-Lyndeborough high school seniors who were on hand to help supervise the festival, said they remember their own trip to the attic clearly, even years later.

Unfortunately for Yurcak and Bergstrom, they attended the school before some major renovations, and while they said they remember signing their names on a post near the attic entrance, things have changed so much they weren’t able to find it again. The renovations were a good thing, as both could remember being cautioned about walking in certain spots or clustering together, but Yucak said it was “disappointing” not being able to find their own names, though they spotted the names of other classmates and friends.

Even so, they said, looking at the names of students they knew, and far back into the history of the school, was still a trip down memory lane.

“It’s a total throwback,” Bergstrom said, as she and Yurcak searched for their own names. “I remember the excitement of it. We were always told, ‘You’ll get to come back someday and find your name,’ and now that ‘someday’ is here. It’s weird to be a senior and doing this.”

Yurcak said it was like “opening a new chapter,” – a part of the transition from the elementary school to the middle school.

 

 Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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