My highlight of the past while was definitely Friday's graduation. The san nensei's (3rd graders) graduated from junior high. All the teachers and staff got dressed in their finest formal garb. One san nensei teacher even wore a beautiful kimono. There was a 2-hour ceremony that I actually really enjoyed. I've learned enough Japanese to be able to figure out the gist of what was going on...and to know when to stand up, bow, and sit down... which we did a LOT of. It was an extremely formal ceremony, and I found I've really come to appreciate Japanese formality. The students all had practiced how to walk onto the stage, how and when to bow, how and when to stand up and sit down. It was an amazing show.
...And it was really emotional too. The homeroom teachers read out each of the students' names as they came to receive their diploma. One teacher started to choke up halfway through his list of students. Many students were openly balling, especially when the first and second graders sang for them.
My favorite part of the ceremony was the end. A bunch of us teachers stood by the door giving flowers and saying "omedetou" (congrats) to the students as they left the gym. It was great. Such a range of emotions. Some students were really excited and wanted to give me a high five or shake my hand as they left. Other students were crying so hard they barely noticed us trying to pass them flowers. I'm posting a bunch of pictures for you to check out...before, during, and after the graduation. Enjoy!