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Fifth graders Josh Crager, left, and Jal Reath practice their handshake Thursday at Carriage Hill Elementary. Out of 22 submission, their handshake was selected as the official Carriage Hill handshake.

Students at Carriage Hill Elementary are shaking up the way they show their Cougar pride.

Last week, the school introduced a school-wide handshake to help unify students and staff.

The idea sparked after Kalcy Tapp, school principal, saw two siblings do a handshake before parting ways one morning.

To find the perfect handshake, school staff turned to the students. On Feb. 10, 22 teams of two competed in a school competition to see if their original handshake made the cut.

Each team was filmed and staff voted on their favorite submission.

On Thursday, fifth graders Jal Reath and Josh Crager learned their handshake would be known throughout the school.

“It feels really good to have a handshake that we came up with and that everyone knows,” Jal said.

The two worked on their handshake for about a week and are excited to share their creation with their classmates.

Josh said he likes the idea of having a special school handshake because it will help bring students together.

If you don't know another student, Josh said, this will help break the ice.

“It makes me feel good inside because you get to actually do something with every kid,” he said.

At the end of the handshake, students are encouraged to say “ready for business,” which will prepare everyone for their day, Josh said.

“You want to do all your school work and if you have any homework you can say you’re ready to do your homework and things you have to do in school,” he said.

“It’s like when you go to work, you straighten your tie you're ready for business.”

With a unique handshake, Jal and Josh are hoping to show other students in the district what it’s like to be a Cougar.

“They are going to think the school is really fun. If they went to a different school, it would probably encourage them a little more to come to this school,” Jal said.

Assistant principal Spencer Choquette said he was excited when Tapp came up with the idea, because overall, it brings students closer.

“We just wanted to build some positive culture in the school,” he said.

“It’s a way to help them connect to one another and help them build some community and it's just another piece that brings us together.”

Over the next few weeks, Jal and Josh, as well as older students in the building, will help teach others the new school handshake, while strengthening their bond in the process.

“It just feels like we are all family,” Jal said.

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