And then they graduated.
It seems as fast as I said “hello” to Kudamatsu, the third-year Junior High School students said goodbye by way of a 100-minute graduation ceremony. Today, three of these ceremonies simultaneously took place at the three Junior High Schools I assistant teach English at. I could, regrettably/physically, only be in attendance at one, but I hope all my students know that I wish I could have been there to high-five each and every one of them as they exited the familiarity of the gymnasium one last time.
Goodbyes have been said.
In Japan, the kids do not attend the same high schools with the peers they walked the JHS halls with – entrance exams are a must, friends split, some in different towns, possibly even different prefectures. Some go on to technical high schools to focus on a trade, while others opt for a school with a great English program. Others yet are not able to attend a public school (at least in Yamaguchi), due to poor exam results, forcing them into a private institution. The pressure these young kids must feel is something I would not wish on anyone their age, but they always do their best – inspiring.
A moment captured.
The mood was everything a jovial mood should entail in the freshly-remodeled-with-gorgeous-wood Kudamatsu Junior High gymnasium. The band played, the parents clapped, the teachers proud. Yet, as jovial as it was, there was a modest sadness in the room. Who wants to say goodbye to their best friends at 15 years old? No one. It would be the last time they all stood in command and bowed politely at their superiors, the last time they would sing together in perfect harmony, the last time they would snicker and joke together, the last time they would feel this comfort – three years together (possibly more if you count elementary school), creates a bond between people. Like it or not.
Off you go! Into the big, bright, exciting world of High School and beyond! Oh my, I promise it will be okay. Feel the Dreams. Field the Dreams!