Graduation Day

This week was the graduation ceremony for the third years at my main high school. It’s the main event of the school year and all the staff and students try their best to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch.

As with most ceremonies in Japan it’s a very formal affair with all the teachers and parents dressed as smart as possible. The teachers also make sure that all the kids are behaving themselves and not falling asleep during the ceremony (something they seem able to with alacrity).

The parents are armed to the teeth with digital cameras and video recorders and as soon as their offspring makes an appearance there’s a cavalcade of flash photography that ensues.

What’s nice is that every single third year students is called up in turn by name to receive their graduation certificate from the headmaster. Luckily my school is rather small so it doesn’t take too long for every student to get called up.

The biggest difference between a high school graduation and a junior high school graduation is that this is very much the end of the students’ school careers. Most of them will move on to bigger cities and universities which more often than not are far apart from those their high school friends will be attending. This usually means that they will not be able to stay in contact with most of their closest friends. On top of that there are so many events and happy memories that they have of their time at school that they will of course feel a mountain of sadness at the prospect of moving on with their lives.

It’s pretty common to see many of the girls (and even some of the boys on occasion) shedding tears as they leave the hall at the end of the ceremony.

The most touching part for me though is afterwards when all the parents and students are walking around the school for the final time and saying goodbye to their friends, teachers and their fellow club members. Rather than being sad a lot of them take this opportunity to share their best memories of their time together and share laughs over all the happy times they’ve had.

Being a teacher means that I have to experience this bitter-sweet moment every year. I’ll have to say goodbye to students who’ve been my friends and who have given me a lot of memories as well. I’m pleased for them and happy that they’re about to embark on the next big adventure in their lives. They have so much to look forward to! がんばって皆さん!