chris vs. the arctic

chris: 72 // the arctic: 47

Graduation

Today was the san-nensei (Grade 9 in Canada) graduation at Daimon Junior High School. In Japan, the school year starts in April, and ends in March the following year. Junior high schools have 3 levels, with the san-nensei being the highest. After they've finished this grade, they move onto high school. They must apply to high schools in order to attend them, and the application most often includes a oral and/or written exam. It's just like university! So much pressure!

Anyway, today they graduated. It was a really formal ceremony. More formal than I expected. Although, I should have expected nothing but absolutely formal from a Japanese school. I was told to wear a black suit, but they forgot to mention one other element... a white tie. I watched the teachers walk into the staffroom this morning, and after seeing the third white tie, I figured my gold rainbowy one wasn't up to snuff. Whatever. Another way to be different. The cool part was that the female san-nensei teachers wore beautiful kimonos. It was a reminder that I'm actually in Japan.

The ceremony itself was really rigid and frigid! Rigid in that all the movements were orcastrated with percision, including the walking and bowing. Frigid in that is was f*cking cold in the gym!! There is no central heat, so we had to suck it up, and bear the 5 degree temperatures for 2+ hours. It was a hilarious sight seeing all the teachers run for the space heater as soon as the ceremony was finished!

I was surprised at the amount of people crying at this thing! The homeroom teachers for the grade were all pretty much on the verge of tears all day. Even the macho boys were balling! The rest of the day felt like someone had died.

Graduating Boys

After the ceremony, we gathered outside to see off the kids as they left the school grounds. I thought they were coming back in the afternoon, but they didn't... In fact, they might never come back! I didn't know this until after the fact! I guess some will come back tomorrow to check their marks... Not sure. It's sad that I may never see them again!

Kids Leaving

When all the kids had left, the teachers had a special lunch together. But here is where it's gets even more funeral-like: They played some audio tapes with messages from the students to the san-nensei teachers. While they talked, there was mournful, cherub-style music in the background. With the teachers crying, the whole effect was that these were messages from the dead! So creepy!!

I guess that ends this year formally. Except for the fact that I, for some reason, am still teaching the ichi- and ni-nensei students this and next week. Oh well. I'm off to Beijing very, very soon!
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