I haven’t really talked about my junior high to extent that I did last year. I guess part of it is that last year’s group was so special to me that I loved every Thursday with them and I wanted to record all of my memories with them.
That’s not to say that this batch of third years aren’t special to me. In fact, they’re just as special to me as last year’s and will be the final group of graduating junior high kids that I really care about. While I will be staying an additional (and final) year of Japan, the final batch of kids that I’ll actually see graduate next year have slowly turned into a bunch of students that I’m apathetic towards. It’s kind of sad how junior high has turned them into a pack of smartasses that don’t really care about their studies. Oh well, I’ll stop rambling.
Anyways! I first started out with these upcoming graduates back when they were in 6th grade. I remember clearly them having English names and nametags which really threw me off as I could never remember their English names and I would have no idea what their Japanese names were. Towards the end of their graduation of elementary we were getting more acquainted with each other and I regretted not getting to know them sooner.
That all changed in junior high though. I would start talking to them more over lunch and in between classes. Teachers were commenting on how studious and polite they were. Mrs. Morita (who was still around) said they were one of the smartest groups that she’s taught. To this day the majority of the students get pretty high test scores for English and do their homework properly. They still surprise me from time to time.
I love socializing with these kids. The difference between them and last year’s group is the majority of this group idolizes me for some bizarre reason. They will always go out of their way to say hello to me when I’m walking down the hallways or yell their goodbyes all the way from the baseball field if they catch a glimpse of me leaving. A couple of them even gave me birthday cards on my birthday. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Even the “bad” kids of the bunch aren’t awful. In fact, Jun, known for being slightly rowdy and doesn’t do well in subjects is one of my favorite kids. He will always speak English to me, despite how broken it is. One of my favorite moments is when he got a bad score on his test and he just simply yelled “FUCK!”. Bad word yes, but the proper way to use it! You’d be surprised at how no one knows how to use that word.
Shin is another “bad” kid but he always focuses when I start talking and I don’t mind him slipping a joke from time to time. He’ll know when to stop though . Yuki is a bright kid who loves baseball and is doing his damn best to be a baseball player. His English is pretty good too. Lately he’s becoming more of a class clown but he knows when to put it together. Masshi is essentially the Japanese version of me; he loves to read, wants to be a writer when he grows up and loves his anime. He’ll tell me from time to time if something big in the anime scene is coming up and knows I’ll be interested in it. All in English! Katsu always goes out of his way to speak to me in the most complex English that he knows. I’ll also see him talking in English to his classmates when I’m not even in the conversation. Araki isn’t bright at all but we still talk about various things during lunch.
The girls are all so adorable and energetic. Nana-chan loves to draw and will usually assist me if I need a picture. Her and Jun helped me a ton when we were making our own comics:
Oddly enough, she had the most hilarious comic:
Ami and Aya are always paired up and talk to me about silly things such as if they’re singing the same pitch of a song or not. Rie is super quiet and shy but she always answers my questions in English and will happily make small conversation with me if I want to. She also puts a huge effort in her studies. It really showed when she competed in the English recitation contest last year, she took meticulous notes and was always seeing me after school so she could practice more. I was a bit bummed that she didn’t place at all. Out of all the students, I suppose I feel closer to her the most as we spent a lot of time together through the competitions, the library, and summer camp. Miu and Mina used to be the grumpiest looking couple of girls and never talked but they’re the complete opposite nowadays, always saying hello to me and talking to me about random stuff.
Throughout this year we have had many great lessons. The greetings in the beginning of the class have become so over-the-top with students screaming off the top of their lungs and the energy stays throughout the entire time. I’ve managed to do some more advanced lessons with them pretty well, like “Show and Tell’, a lesson where each student brings few important items to them and talks about them in class. Each student also has a feedback sheet for the presenters and most of the time they comment in English, which is something I didn’t even ask them to do. Sometimes we are just so far ahead that we just play games to relax.
The library is one of my favorite hangout spots in my junior high, as well as my third years. I’m usually there every break in between classes and we’ll just chit-chat about random stuff, whether it’s about Rie pondering what to bake next, helping Ami, Aya or Shin finish their English homework for their juku class, or pop culture stuff. I’ll really miss those days.
Our last lesson is coming up this Thursday with graduation day coming on Friday. It’ll be another sad day, just like last year but that’s the life of teacher. You can’t keep the good ones forever but at least you’ll be able to remember the good times you had with them.