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