They call the old man who greets them every school day with fist bumps "Mr. Knuckles."
He is 94-year-old U.S. Navy veteran Wally Richardson, a California man who was well into his dotage before bumping fists became the soul version of shaking hands.
The kids at Marina Village Middle School in El Dorado Hills, California, can't get enough of Richardson, who rises and greets the students with smiles and words of kind wisdom.
Audrey Arnold was recently displeased that she'd forgotten to tell her mom, Gina, to drop her outside school. When Gina asked why, her daughter said she wanted to "talk to the cute, little old man" whose mere presence makes her day.
"He talks about kindness and gives us advice and fist bumps — it’s the best part of the day,” Audrey explained to her mother. Gina got the point.
“When I drove by I saw him and my heart burst," she said. "He’s like an angel, you can’t help but feel calm and peace when you go near him."
Richardson has been standing outside the school, dispensing good will one fist bump at a time, for the last 10 years. His wife used to accompany him, but she doesn't walk so well anymore, Arnold said.
"There are kids in college who still remember how he greeted them," the mother said.