VICTORIA -- Graduating students at Victoria High school (Vic High) have lost their opportunity to walk across the stage and receive their diploma because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But on Monday, they were able to complete one graduation rite of passage by signing their names in the attic of the 106-year-old school building.

It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1940s when graduating students would sneak into the attic of Vic High and leave their mark on the walls.

In the 1970s, the school finally accepted the fact that students were going to find their way into the attic, regardless of the school’s efforts to stop them, and turned it into a tradition.

Pascale Grenier is one of those graduating students that got access to the dark, dusty attic so that she could leave her mark.

“I just wrote my name. I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a quote but there’s some pretty funny ones,” said Pascale.

“It’s kind of a way for us to wrap up the year and leave our mark after working so hard in this building.”

Other students told CTV News that visiting the attic provided them with a sense of history.

“It’s just really cool that people are going to look back and see my name,” said Cole Quinton. “It’s going to be in the history books and that’s really cool to think about.”

Vic High principal Aaron Parker estimates there’s around 20,000 unique signatures from around 80-years of students writing messages throughout the attic space.

With COVID-19 closing schools for much of the year, for some students this was the first time they have been able to see each other.

“It’s really nice to see everyone and just be able to just have that moment as we sign our messages,” said this year’s valedictorian, Dilan Ilhan. “Just coming into the school and seeing everyone was so nice.”

The provincial government is about to embark on a $77 million seismic upgrade to the school, which was built in 1914. The big question on many students’ minds is whether the attic-signing tradition is going to last.

“Our plan is to continue this tradition once we come back to Vic High,” said Parker. “We anticipate this building is going to be here for another 100 years and we hope this is going to be a tradition that continues.”