Last Friday was my last day at Hokuyo Junior High School, and like Higashi Yonesato, it was a hard departure for me. It seems like I was just starting to get some of the kids to really open up and be comfortable to me, and the teachers as well. Last week I made it a goal to see and talk to as many of the kids as possible, and to eat lunch with some students who I knew had always wanted to, but were too shy to ever ask. And - surprise, surprise - I discovered students who are great at English, but who'd never talked to me before. All on the last week!! It made leaving that much harder...
The boys of homeroom 2-4
The other boys were pushing the one in the white shirt closer to me. You can tell he's a baseball player because of his short hair.
Friday was also the last day of the school year, with a new term beginning in April after Spring Break. It was also closing ceremony day. I think the Japanese love definite beginnings and ending of things - there seems to always be an opening and closing ceremony for everything - and for someone who loves routine, this is right up my alley. There were several other teachers whose last day at Hokuyo was Friday, whether retiring or moving on to another school. On Friday at the morning teacher meeting, we were marched in front of the staff and teachers, and each of us gave a goodbye speech. I was ready for this, and had even prepared to speak some of it in Japanese (I had practiced very hard the night before). Then the Closing Ceremony started, and we were again asked to come to the front, this time in front of all the student body. The Principal spoke about each of us, and then we were again asked to give a speech. I did my speech to the students in English, telling them how great they were and how much I was going to miss them. Then we were each given a huge bouquet and exited the gym through the students as they were clapping and waving to us. A large number of third graders had returned to the school for the closing ceremony, and I was told by one of my JTE's that it was to see me off, though I don't know if that's true. It was good to see them again, as it'll probably be the last time. After that, I visited as many of the homerooms to say goodbye, write notes, and take pictures.
Homeroom 2-1, the loudest second grade class. And my favorite!
Me and Rino, a second grader. She cried when I hugged her on the last day. So sweet!
I called these boys my body guards.
Me and the "Banana Bunch". Long story.
Mizuki and Serina, my biggest fans
That Friday night was also the teacher's end-of-year party, which was a new experience for me. Two hours of food and speeches (yes, I had to make another speech). I told them that I had already used all my Japanese in my last speech (they laughed), and asked Shimada sensei to translate for me as I told them what great teachers they were and how honored I was to work with them and at this school. And I meant every word. They gave me another bouquet of flowers and a framed letter:
Being at Hokuyo was an absolute joy and I looked forward to going there every day. I loved listening to the music classes, and recently found out that their music teacher, Ms. Abe, is a well-known teacher throughout Japan. After attending their end-of-year chorus club concert, I can see why. I mean, do you know any other junior high school students that can sing like this:
I'll miss this school so much, but I promised to come back and visit, especially to hear them sing!!