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Echo From the Buttes returns

Students in masks do a land blessing before a freshman hike up the mountain behind them
August 22, 2021

Echo From the Buttes is a tradition more than 80 years strong, and it returns in force this year after taking a pandemic pause last year.

The event — in which first-year Arizona State University students hike up "A" Mountain in Tempe to paint the "A" white, symbolizing a fresh start to the new school year — included sophomores for the first time ever. It's part of the university's “SophoMORE” initiative to give second-year Sun Devils the “rites of passage” experiences they missed due to the COVID -19 pandemic.

It's a chance for incoming students to feel a part of the ASU community, especially important in a year when nearly half the undergraduate student body hasn't been on campus after the remote learning of the 2020–21 school year. And for those who wonder about the event's name — which changed in 2019 — the event is taken from ASU's fight song.

The "A" will be painted gold again before the first home football game, Sept. 2 vs. Southern Utah.

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Here are some of the photos from Saturday's event.

Two young women hold up white-painted hands in the ASU pitchfork gesture

Friends Avery Herendeen (left) and Rachel Rupinen help paint the “A” during Echo From the Buttes the morning of Saturday, Aug. 21, in Tempe. Photo by Jenny Dupuis/ASU

A handful of people's legs are shown with white-paint handprints on them

Sometimes a little bit more than just the "A" on "A" Mountain gets painted. Photo by Jenny Dupuis/ASU

A student wearing a mask and ballcap spreads white paint on the A on A Mountain

Traditionally, Echo From the Buttes is for first-year students. But this year, sophomores were included, as they didn't get to experience many of the freshman milestones last year. Photo by Jenny Dupuis/ASU

Two students wearing masks walk at the front of a line hiking up A Mountain

High school friends turned Sun Devils Shauna Meshkin (left) and Chloe Merriweather start their journey up the mountain to help paint the “A.” Photo by Jenny Dupuis/ASU

Two Native students wearing masks read a land blessing before the A Mountain hike

Ayden Clytus (right), along with other Indigenous students, reads a blessing and land acknowledgement for "A" Mountain, considered a sacred site for local tribes including the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Tohono O'odham Nation, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community. Photo by Laura Fields/ASU

Young women smile in a group during the A Mountain hike

Ja’Lhyah Francis (back left), Isabelle Rowe (back right) and friends pose for a photo along the trail leading to the "A." The giant initial will be returned to its traditional gold before the first home football game. Photo by Jenny Dupuis/ASU

Top photo: Indigenous students give a blessing and land acknowledgement to the sacred site known as “A” Mountain in the Sun Devil community during the 2021 Echo From the Buttes, a long-standing ASU tradition, the morning of Aug. 21, in Tempe. The students are (from left) Felix Muniz, Napolean Marrietta, Gabriel Garcia, Sara Conklin, Ian King, Brandee Joe, Dylan Bia, Ayden Clytus, Riley ONeil, (unknown) and Juliana Scocuzza (far right). Photo by Laura Fields/ASU

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