March 11, 2007

Gymnastics champion!

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While competing at the Tokyo High School Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in the Tokyo Sports Culture Pavilion on Sunday, January 28, first year student Kato Yukina won the Ribbon athletic event!


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Yukina's amazing athleticism!


Yukina's comment on her performance;
''This time, I think that I did better compared to last year. However, there are still some things I am not satisfied with so I will keep trying hard. I want to thank everyone for their continued support.''


Congradulations Yukina! Keep up the great work!


RM

March 8, 2007

Ski Trip 2007!

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February 26-March 1 Annual Seiritsu Ski School


This winter has been unseasonably warm in Tokyo, so much so we did not see any snow this year in the city. Normally Tokyo gets a sprinkling of snow each February, when the weather drops to around zero for a few days.


So what’s a private school to do for students who need the sensation of flying through fresh powder, but to pack up four bus loads of ski bums for a five hour drive west through Saitama and Gunma prefectures until we reached the mountainous prefecture of Nagano and it’s Kitashiga Ryuoo Ski Park. (Nagano held the 1998 Winter Olympics, although Ryuoo Ski Park was not an event site.)


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Udagawa Sensei leading his group of boys.


Over 200 students participated, of which about half were on their first ski trip. Interestingly enough, of the 14 teachers that came along, most were avid skiers and many licensed ski instructors. The schedule had us slated for morning, afternoon and night skiing sessions, with all the beginners being lead by experienced teachers during each outing in groups of 5 to 10. By the last day, all the newbies were on the intermediate runs, although they took it rather easy. Some of the more talented students were fun to watch whiz buy at top speed.


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First year students Tai and Misuki riding a lift.


We got lucky with the weather, having completely clear skies half the time, some heavy snow at night, and only one morning was the mountain so foggy no one could go hit the slopes. So, overall all we had a great outing, with everyone returning exhausted, but in one piece.


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Due to many different schools visiting the ski hill, all Seiritsu students wore numbers to be easy to spot from a distance. Looking like competitive racers was just a coincidence...


RM

March 8, 2007

Graduation Ceremony 2007

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The 59th Seiritsu Gakuen Graduation Ceremony took place on Sunday, March 4, 2007 at 10am here at the Seiritsu Tokyo Campus.


The graduating class was made up of 421 students, 236 boys and 185 girls. This year’s graduation was extra special because it is the first time our female students have graduated since the school became co-educational 3 years previous.


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Principal Fukuda gives his speech to the graduates.


The pre-ceremony preparation had been going on for several days, in which the school gymnasium was completely decorated with red and white traditional celebration banners covering all the walls, the floor was covered in carpet and a large stage built. Parents arrived on the day about one hour early, the students about an hour even earlier to gather together in their homeroom with their homeroom teacher. The students wore their regular school uniform, not a new suit or gown like in Western countries.


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A female student receiving her diploma, along with all the diploma's of her homeroom.


During the ceremony, in addition to official speeches, the class president for each class was called up to the front and they received all their classmates’ graduation diplomas from the principal in a large stack. Since the ceremony was short, starting at 10am and ending about an hour later, all the students returned to their homerooms where they individually received their diplomas and said their final good-byes. The parents all stood at the back of the room to see their children complete their high school years, most taking loads of pictures.


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Sono Sensei wearing a traditional kimono, with 'Graduation Congradualtions!' written on the board, as he hands out diplomas after the ceremony.


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Students and parents gathered in one homeroom class after the ceremony, watching each classmate receive their diploma one at a time.


The final graduation custom for Seiritsu is the ‘the last walk’ in which the graduating 3rd year students walk through a narrow human corridor in the main school courtyard, lined tightly on two sides by many 1st and 2nd year students, normally bunched together in their clubs, plus parents standing behind them. It was very much like a winner’s parade, as the graduates walked slowly out of the school for the last time, and their junior club members ran out to give them flowers and presents as they walked by. It was for sure an emotional time, especially at the end of the walk right at the main gate as everyone took pictures with everyone else, the tears flowing freely, even from the teachers.


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The 'last walk', as seen here with Sukegawa Sensei leading his homeroom 3A sport's course graduating students.


It is also at this time that the clubs have everyone stand in a circle and the graduates give their final words of advice to their club juniors, as well as the juniors wish the best for their seniors. More presents are exchanged, this time club coaches and teachers also receiving something.


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It's a mix of smiles and tears for the co-ed karate club, as the first ever female members graduate.


And then, slowly, a few at a time, the graduates leave with the courtyard finally becoming quiet. Actually, in the past when just boys graduated, maybe because they are shy it seemed the ‘last walk’ took less than an hour before everyone had left, but with the girls, it was a good three hours before everyone cleared out! Luckily the weather was actually sunny and quite warm, to the point some of us got a tan... All in all, a happy, and emotional, day.


RM

March 3, 2007

Can’t read the menu, but can make a friend or two...

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Michael with his soccer dormitory buddies...


Since being in Japan I have had many obstacles to over come; Japanese food, communal recreational-center style showers, the different soccer style, but the most difficult of all for me would have to be the language. I can say that my Japanese has come on leaps and bounds from when I first arrived.


Firstly you all may think it is easy because I am immersed in the culture so I’m surrounded by the language 24/7, but it also comes down to the awesome group the boys on the team. These guys have been a big help, as they have taught me the Japanese style of playing soccer to going out to town for a simple meal. I have had many good times with them and find I can relax and be myself around them. This fact makes it a lot easier to learn the language as I’m not worried about making mistakes.


For example, the first time I went out with the boys after a game to get a bite to eat, they said to me in Japanese they would pay for me, but I didn’t really understand what they said. They had a good laugh as I was pointing at the menu and then trying to read it in English to the blanked-face waiter. But they helped out which made it a bit easier, and I was happily surprised when they didn’t let me pay. This small gesture of putting up with my lack of language skills at first actually helped me come out of my shell and make little attempts at doing more things. Improvement comes a lot faster when you are having fun and you can relax around new friends. They always help me out when I make mistakes, and actually for their amusement, they sometimes help me make mistakes too.


I can say now that the language barrier, which looked to be unbreakable, has cracked in many places thanks to the great bunch of friends I have made here.


Michael Fitzgerald

about Seiritsu

Seiritsu Gakuen is a private co-educational high school created in 1925 and it is located in Tokyo, Japan.

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