In Japan, there are three grades in high school. 1st year (equivalent to a sophomore in American), 2nd year (Juniors), and 3rd year (seniors). In January, the 3rd year students finish their high school finals and are given the month of February off to prepare for University. Then, they return to school in March for graduation. That being said, this past Friday we had "Yosenkai" aka "senior farewell assembly" !! 

I wan't sure what to expect, this being my first year at a Japanese high school, so when they blocked out 1-4th period for the assembly I assumed it would be quite entertaining. Sure enough, all the student filed into the old gym at school and lined up in perfect formation for the show to start...

The assembly began by announcing each 3rd year homeroom class and welcoming them in parade like fashion. The students look really serious in their uniforms, but this assembly was quite crazy and fun!

As you can see, the 1st year and 2nd year students really loved welcoming in the seniors. 

Our school principal gave a formal welcome. I always love these kind of assemblies because they remind me that...I am indeed in Japan. Students in perfect lines wearing their dark blue uniforms, bowing to the principal as he walks up to stage. Very formal, very Japanese. 

The show began with the "soft music" club playing a set of songs. The two students singing are in the communications class I teach. The boy, Kentaro, is SO SO SHY in class! It cracks me up every time he gets up on stage because he turns into a totally different rocker-amazing-singer! 

"Seniors, thank you" 

After the music club performed, the dance team performed, a video was played, and the 1st year students led the seniors in a quiz. It was school trivia as well as baby photos of teachers and the students had to guess who it was! haha that was a hit.

"Amie, take our pic!" - I always hear this when I carry my camera around. 

The band came in and performed a few songs. The third year students have "retired" from their band positions so they really got a kick out of seeing the younger students fill their shoes. They were cheering so loud during the solos and almost crying out of excitement and pride! 

Two reaaaallly quiet boys in my communications class (the quiet ones are always the ones that surprise you!) took over the singing part of a song and I was so shocked to see them up there! They were wearing backwards caps and dancing around freely...I almost couldn't believe they were the same, quiet, timid kids in my class!

This is another interesting tradition they do. One member from each senior homeroom goes up to the second floor...they turn all the lights off and put a spot light on one student at a time...and the student shouts out words of advice to the 1st and 2nd year students, shares a good memory or two, and usually thanks their homeroom teacher. It is pretty cute because they yell at the top of their lungs...I almost got emotional when one student called out his homeroom teacher "SENSEI ARIGATO!!!!" (thank you teacher) and the entire homeroom class turned to the teacher and bowed. 

This was really sweet too - the 2nd year students all stood up and sang a farewell song to the seniors. 

The whole 3 hour event ended with a performance by the 3rd year homeroom teachers. They usually do some type of skit, and this year they did a Japanese comedy skit that was really cute (although I couldn't really understand all of it haha!) and then they sang a farewell song as the encore! 

It was pretty amazing to witness such a proper send off to the Seniors. In Japan, people have a lot of respect for age order and honoring your elders...so it made sense that the seniors would be so well respected by the underclassmen. I teach mostly senior classes, so I was a bit sad to see many of my students walk out for the last time (80% chance I'll cry at graduation) but I am excited for their future endeavors and proud of all they've accomplished at Ichikashi.