Sotsugyou shiki - graduation ceremony

Today was the graduation ceremony for Yokose Shogakko, the 6th grade students received their certificates in front of teachers parents and other students.

The whole day ran "like clockwork" (it was difficult to explain the meaning of that one!) or sumuzu "smooth".

Th hall was set up beautifully with flowers, flags and red carpets. Down the centre of the gym were the seats for the students 4th and 5th at the back with 6th up the front. The parents sat on the right and left hand sides with teachers and guests sitting infront of them.

The teachers each led their class into the hall to take their seats, all walking in pairs with a set distance between them. It was a very dignified entrance, and it set the tone for the day.

After the opening rei (bow) and Japanese national anthem the students were called forward one by one to receive their certificate.

They called "hai" when their name was announced, stood up and walked to the middle isle. They stepped out and first bowed to the guests and then with a military style about turn bowed to the teachers. Next they moved towards the stage, climbing the steps with backs straight and heads high... they then bowed to the Kocho and Kyoto Sensei (principal and vice principal).

For the first and last student the Kocho Sensei read more from the certificate, it was mostly the students name and date of birth as well as the date of graduation. I think personal achievements may have been mentioned but I'm not sure.

When receiving the cert (Which came in a leather folder), the students reached first with the left hand and then the right, stepping back one step and bowing with their arms out-stretched, then, in a well rehearsed motion they folded the book under one arm and made their way off one side of the stage. Stoping once more to bow to either the guests or teachers.

It was pretty stiff and ridged I thought, but very traditional, really a fantastic ceremony!

The presentation was followed by a few speeches and some songs from the students. Thus began the crying! I managed to hold my tears back, though I thought I would scream with the pain in my shoulder.... Really bad today and it hurts more in the cold.

After that the 6th graders filed out of the hall to a loud applause, more than a few were crying!

I helped clean up the hall carrying chairs, rolled up carpets and students, and helped Shitamoto Sensei roll up the PA system cords.

There was a short break and then the final farewell for the 6th graders. The filed out of the shoukouguchi (school entrance) past the 4th and 5th grade students who had made a human pathway to the school gates. I had good fun messing with some kids as we waved and clapped.

But then, Nuijima Sensei pulled me to the front, put me behind the 6th grade teachers and had me walk down through the students. I tried my best not to cry but I couldnt help it! It was a really nice way to say good bye to my students, I shook all their hands, we high fived, hugged and kancho'd, I had kids dragging me to the ground and swinging out of my arms.

It really made me feel alot happier and I was laughing and crying at the same time.

I made it to the end and shook hands with the teachers too. It felt a bit weird, since it was supposed to be a day for the 6th years. But I'm happy I got to not only say good bye, but interact with all of my students one last time!

I really enjoyed my time in Yokose Shogakko. I was only there twice a week. But I felt more at home there than at Onohara. Both schools were great but Yokose just had such a great mix of teachers and students, such a nice atmosphere.

I won't forget my time at Yokose Sho. I wish all the teachers and students the best of luck in the new school year. And hope that the next teacher enjoys the school as much as me!