Friday 3rd April was Graduation Day at Tokamachi High School this year. Graduation Day for me is a breeze; all I have to do is turn up at the hall in time looking smart. I feel sorry for the other teachers though.
Teachers without homerooms have to organise teh hall and help the parents who come to the ceremony. The homeroom teachers for ichi-nen-sei and ni-nen-sei (1st and 2nd year) classes have to keep their classes in check and then lead them into a cold hall 45 minutes early. But I guess this is nothing compared to the responsibilities of san-nen-sei (3rd year) homeroom teachers. They have to make sure all the class are present (and chase absent students by phone to find out why they aren't here), make sure they're all in correct uniform, give or take the odd pair of loose socks, and then lead their class in front of the whole school, parents and honoured guests in the hall. Good job none of them had stage fright!
I managed to get into the hall on time, but too late to sit near the stove keeping most of the other teachers warm (must remember that for next year). The hall walls are decorated with red and white stripes and on the stage there is the school flag and the school's bonsai tree. When music by the school band started (three songs, but I could only recognise the second, "Land of Hope anf Glory"), the 3rd years filed in from the back of teh hall to their chairs at the front, all while everybody else is clapping.
The 3rd years sit, then there is a word or two from the principal. Then each 3rd year homeroom teacher reads out the names of their class, and each student stands as their name is called out. Then the principal again while teh students are standing, and everyone claps. The students sit and the principal gives his main speech. I understood more this year; he said that the time at tokamachi had been long, but hopefully and enjoyable time. Something about memories and acheivements. Tehn something about teh future.
Then the school sings the School Anthem, and then the 3rd years file out to a standing ovation.
And that's the graduation Ceremony. I went back to the English room and ate a sushi bento which had been ordered for each teacher. It was a Friday, so when I left at 12, I went to see the 3rd year students for one last time. I ended up staying for over an hour signing yearbooks, having my photo taken and chatting to students about their plans after school. It was great to see them again after they'd been on home study leave since January. It was also funny seeing their reaction when I started asking questions in Japanese (I have a rule of not speaking Japanese to any student in school at anytime. It limits the practice I get, but it encourages the students to speak English more).
And that was that. In the evening there was a graduation Enkai which I'll talk about in another post.