I'll never forget them.

Yesterday was graduation. It was the 8th graduation I’ve attended in my time in Japan.  It was the best one, by far. It was also the saddest, because I felt much closer to these kids than any other group I’ve ever taught. They were great, all of them, and I’ll miss them.

That book, the Kizuna one, in the picture, is one of the many commemorative albums that get made at this time of year. There’s one with stuff from all the students and teachers, one just for the graduates, and then the photo yearbook the graduates get.  In this one, we wrote messages to the graduates, and I thought I’d share here what I wrote to them.


短い一年間ですね。4月に、○○中に初めて来たときに、「○○中学生はどんな生徒かな」と考えた。実は、ちょっと心配していました。しかし、心配は要らなかった。君たち○○中生は本当にスゴイと思います。運動会の時にはyour powerを見せてくれ、そして僕は君たちに深く感動しました。そして合唱コンクールや生徒会イベントの時、みんなはすごくimpressiveでした。I’m very lucky to have met you all.

さぁ、卒業したね。レベルアップできた!これからyour lifeは変わりますよね。ワクワクもしているし心配もしているはずです。でも大丈夫。この世界はすばらしい場所だよ。君たちもすばらしい人々です。悲しいことも起こるはずだし、難しいことも出るはず。しかし、諦めるな!Don’t give up!君たち○○中の卒業生ができないことは何もありません。僕は君たちを信じています。自分自身を信じてください。

And, in English:

Congratulations on your graduation day.

It’s been a short year, hasn’t it? Back in April when I first came to ○○ Junior High School, I thought, “I wonder what sort of students ○○ JHS students are…” To be honest, I was a little worried. But, I didn’t need to be. You, students of ○○ JHS are really amazing. At the Sports Festival, you showed your power, and I was deeply moved. And at the Chorus Contest and the Student Council Events, everyone was really impressive. I’m very luck to have met you all.

Well, you’ve graduated, haven’t you! You’ve levelled up! From now on, your life is going to change. There’ll be exciting times, and there’ll be worried times. But it’s okay. This world is a fantastic place! And you all are fantastic people. I know there may be difficult times, or sad times. But don’t give up! You, graduates of ○○ JHS, there’s nothing you can’t do. I believe in you all. Please believe in yourselves.

Now, come April, I’ll be returning to elementary school teaching, to my dismay. I’ll be leaving this school behind. I’m really, really glad that I got to spend this one year here.  It was a unique period that won’t ever be duplicated, and I’m thankful I got to be a part of it, and spend it with this group of students.

I won’t forget.