Saturday, March 23, 2013

Harry's graduation, March 19th

We all had a busy morning on Harry's graduation day. Harry had to be at the kimono dresser's by 7:30 because Baachan, who dressed Yoshi, had to zip off to the hospital with Jiichan's suit so that he could get dressed and come out to see Harry graduate, then go back to do all the bill paying and such so that he could be discharged properly. I had to take Harry to the dresser's and then rush back. Seiju took Harry to school and then came back to pick me up, now properly dressed myself. Yoshi couldn't come because he had a class play that they had been rehearsing for about three months now. The only performance, at exactly the same time as Harry's graduation. The teacher said she'd send a video which was very kind of her. Back to Harry!
We arrived just a few minutes before Jiichan and Baachan, who slipped in the back and actually got seats with the best view as they were staggered across the gangway. No heads in front of them! The gym was decorated with flowers and the sixth graders art works, some of which are on the back wall behind Jiichan and Baachan.
The sixth graders lined up in the corridor in name order, and entered when their names were called. When Yoshi graduated from this school four years ago a trend was started when he decided to wear hakama (the skirt that goes over kimono and was worn by scholars and samurai). Since then every year there have been one or two kids who wear kimono. This year there was another innovation with the boy behind Harry deciding that he would wear his baseball team uniform. I think it's great that they are allowed to choose freely and to express what is important to them. There were two kids in Hakama this year and the rest wore the uniform of their future junior high schools. Most elementary schools feed into one or at most two junior high schools, but because kids from anywhere in the city can attend this school, our class of fourteen is splitting off into seven or eight different schools. It was interesting to see all the different uniforms. 
There were pots of violas lining the walkways, next to each student, and next to all the guests. These were grown by the sixth graders themselves. 
Waiting for the ceremony to start. The red and white bunting is a celebratory tradition and is hung at happy ceremonies and festivals. The calligraphy was done by the sixth graders, each choosing a motto for themselves. The kids you can see give or take ten or so shaved off the edge of the photo is the entire school population.

Once everyone had been called in, they stood by their seats facing the rest of the school and guests. They had decorated the stage with big portraits of each kid (Harry is up there, top right!) and in the centre a big screen that had photos and details projected up as the ceremony progressed.
One by one their names were called and each walked up in ceremonial fashion to the dais where the headmaster was standing.
The headmaster handed them their certificates,
then they walked down to the rest of the school and parents, across the gym and to the head of the PTA on the other side. There they stopped and made a short statement about themselves and their plans for junior high school,
 gave their certificate to the PTA head, who put it into a folder and handed it back to the student, who then went back to their chair and sat down. The rest of the ceremony was speeches. They were short and sweet and tear jerking when a letter from their very first teacher was read out - she had promised to come to their graduation but has her own sixth grade class to graduate with this year so couldn't come. The headmaster gave a nice speech with a sentence or two about his memories of doing things with each particular kid over the last couple of years. He nearly cracked and started to cry, which would have set every student off, but he held it together. For a stoic nation they get very emotional at these ceremonies! The mother in front of me cried thoughout the entire ceremony.
 After the ceremony and the kids had filed out, the rest of the students left and took their chairs and then the sixth graders came back for a class photo, general milling about and lots of family photos.

 After the class photo, the kids went to their very last homeroom, and we had a few minutes to look at the artwork that was on display in the gym and the library.

 Harry's motto. Funkotsu saishin is what it says. It means "I will exert myself to the utmost".
 Their last craft project was a kit to make a book and pen stand. The teacher gave them a group photo from their school trip to put in the front.
 Harry carved and painted the sides with two of his mushi characters - these two are sun and moon gods.

 This was another craft, a moving paper craft, you turn the handle on the side and whatever you made moves. Harry did one called "Hands reaching from the grave." Lovely!
This was another project - an action shot of a figure in sports. Harry did an ice skater falling over!
We went up to the class for the last bit of the last homeroom. Then there was an announcement to come down to the lower corridor for the final send off of the students.
All the teachers and kids formed an arch that the graduating kids walked through and out of the school.
Then it was mass photo op time! With parents.....
 With classmates - in varying poses and combinations!
 .... and with friends.....

 I took a few shots of all the relentless black and grey! You can see one mother wore a cream suit but the rest were all in dark colours and nobody had any colour at all on them except me in my green shawl and my friend who wore a dark green and pink scarf with her grey suit.
 We went home and took a few more photos. We were blessed with brilliant sunshine for the day which was a great relief after literally weeks of grey cloudy overcast days. Then we all stripped off our restrictive formal wear, threw on jeans and then went out to eat sushi!


Jo Tomooka said...

Great job Harry! Love the hakama. The art work is also fantastic. Good luck with your journey at Junior High School....

Gina said...

Congratulations Harry! What he wore for graduation was awesome! Also, what beautiful weather for a graduation too.

Happy to hear Harry’s grandpa could attend, I know he had been in the hospital so, that was really nice. : )

Also, regarding Harry’s artwork, he’s so talented honestly. His last craft project came out really cool and glad he could add his mushi characters in there too. : )

shinshu life said...

LOVE the hakuma and the smiles! :) And what great news that Ojiichan could be there. It will be hard saying goodbye to the school you love I'm sure but the end of a chapter is the beginning of a new one, hey? :)

Oyome-san said...

Love all these pictures and the descrips - gives a great idea of what happens - I think elementary school in Japan is still that golden time and these farewell ceremonies are sweet. I don't remember anything about leaving MY elemenatry school!