Sunday, March 2, 2008

Graduation Preparations

My sannensei (third grade junior high) students will be graduating on March 5th, so the past couple of weeks everyone's been busy with preparations for their graduation.

Last Thursday (Feb 21) I stayed after school to help clean the gym. It was a lot of work and freezing cold to boot! I spent an hour/hour and a half along with maybe twenty students and three or four other teachers washing and scrubbing the floor and when I left we weren't even finished. Hard to believe I used to think that having students/staff clean the school themselves was a great idea! You have no idea how hard black scuff marks can be to clean by hand!

This Thursday (Feb 28) was a fun day. Everyone ate lunch together in the first floor general purpose/meeting room. The tables were arranged so there was a mix of ichi-, ni- and sannensei (first, second and third graders) along with the teachers and everyone got a slice of cake along with the regular school lunch. Then for fifth and sixth periods, we had a graduation celebration in the gym. The ichi- and ninensei presented skits in honour of the sannensei, and the teachers (myself included!) sang a song for them as well. Their homeroom teacher, Ito-sensei, also made a video for them.

It was really cute! I thought it was going to just be a slideshow (and there was one) but he actually made a short film where Doraemon (a time traveling blue cat robot) appeared and brought him back to see the sannensei in the past. (Some ninensei students acted the roles of sannensei.) Of course, having only spent six months with them, I didn't get a lot of the references, but they did have one scene showing three of the "sannensei" (acted by the ninensei, remember) practicing for the culture festival after party, so I recognized that. ^_^

Anyway, it's finally starting to sink in that the sannenensei will be graduating in less than a week. Man, I'm really going to miss them!!

And realizing that I will indeed miss them has also reminded me just how blessed I am in the work I'm doing here. I mean, not only do I get to see my students regularly (as opposed to being a one-shot who goes to a different school every day and sees the same class maybe once every couple of months), but I'm based at a small school (38 students in total) so I've been able to really get to know them.

So yeah, apart from the stuff that's been happening in school, I've also been working on graduation gifts for the sannensei. Even though I've been planning their gifts since January, I only really started working on them three weeks ago so most of my free time has been thus occupied.

What am I giving them? One of the few things (apart from chocolate chip cookies) that I can make with any degree of confidence: sock monkeys!

I bought the socks at the 100 yen store (Daiso, to be exact) but they were a little short, so I actually had to reverse the body. See, usually the toe of the sock is the monkey's head, and the opening is sewn into the feet, but I had to sew up the opening to make the head and make the toe into the legs.

I also cut stars out of foam and wrote "Sotsugyo omedetou" ("Congratulations on your graduation) on the front and "Kirita Chugakkou - Melissa" on the back. I then pinned the stars to a ribbon I tied round the monkeys' necks.

I finally finished all of them today, so take a look: