Yes, today was our junior high graduation. I didn't have a gradution for junior high, although I do know some people in the States who did. Anyway, junior high graduation is a significant milestone here in Nihon. You see, compulsory education ends here the last year of junior high (9th grade American equivalent), so really this is all the kids have to complete (although the vast vast majority do continue on to high school). Since high school is semi-optional, that means that they apply to the schools they want to go to. Some high schools specialize in the arts, some in English, some in vocational work. For high school many of these kids who have been friends their whole lives go their separate ways. So these kids this can be a pretty emotional day, and who can blame them. They're so young to have to start saying goodbyes.
The ceremony was very formal. It included speeches by the class president, principal, and some other man I didn't know. We all dressed up (see pictures below). Sadly, unlike Texas graduations it lacked the whoops and hollers and cow bell ringing. :) A lot of my little girls cried all the way through the ceremony. The emotional climaxes were when all the teachers and parents stood up, and one teacher read a letter to the teachers on behalf of everyone thanking them for everything. She fought crying the whole way through. Also was when the entire student body sang a goodbye song. Thank goodness I didn't understand it, or I might have been boo hooing too. I did have a tearful moment when I said goodbye to one of my favorite students.
After the ceremony, all the students, teachers, and parents line the driveway entrance to the school and the 3rd year homeroom teachers lead their classes to the gate then say goodbye. I thought it was a very nice custom and a good way to say "mata ne" (see you later).
I'll miss those kids. They were a great group. It reminds me of my impending departure of Namekawa Chu. But I am reminded of the wise words of a very wise man, Bailey McBride. He's worked at OC almost 50 years, so he has had some experience seeing people come and go. As I left OC last year, he told me that while it was hard seeing people he loves leave every year, one thing he never regretted was opening his heart to love people, no matter how temporarily they might be in his life. I can understand what he means now. I am so blessed to have so many people to love on in my life.
Ms. Yatabe's class before graduation
Our graduates ceremoniously leaving
There they go. Bye bye junior high... hello high school!
Yumiko Yatabe (my head English teacher who is fabulous) and me. The 3rd year homeroom teachers all wore traditional Japanese dress for the graduation ceremony.
For the fam-- fully spiffed out and sensei-ified. :) I finally got to wear my suit!
Full Namekawa Chu Gakko Photo Album