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After four years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, hundreds of seniors this week were able to scratch one more item off their Carolina bucket lists: Climb the 128 steps to the top of the Bell Tower and ink their names on the brick walls.

“Getting to sign your name on the wall is kind of like a marker of ‘I’ve made it after four years,’” said Victoria Greene of Kings Mountain, N.C. “It’s kind of funny how you’ve worked so hard just to get to sign your name on a wall, but it sure does mean a lot.”

The UNC General Alumni Association has been hosting the Senior Bell Tower Climb since 2003. As many as 2,000 seniors attend the event each year, said C. Hawkins, manager of student engagement at the UNC GAA and senior class adviser.

The climb started at 10 a.m. Tuesday, but the line to go up the tower started forming at 7:30 a.m., Hawkins said. By midday, some students said they waited in line for about two hours. Others were able to cut to the front of the line if they were new grad alumni members and had donated at least $20.14 to the 2014 Senior Class Campaign for Carolina.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt attended the event, greeting students, handing out cookies and taking pictures.

Once the seniors made their way up the Bell Tower, they pulled out markers to sign their name and posed for selfies and photos with friends.

“It’s symbolic of leaving your mark on Carolina,” said Malhar Patel, an environmental health and chemistry major from Atlanta who is headed to medical school in the fall. “It was really special. It was the realization that this was it, this is coming to a close, this chapter of my life is coming to a close and it’s been a great ride.”

Story by Natalie Vizuete

Video by Rob Holliday and Melanie Busbee

Published April 22, 2014.