卒業式: Comparing Japan and the USA’s High School Graduation Ceremonies (Part 2)

A few days before the graduation ceremony, both Japanese students and those from the US practice. In the States, I remember being told to note the classmate before and after me, as members of the top 10% are not in alphabetical order. The valedictorian practiced his speech. We sat, stood, and walked. A student missed his cue. We sat, stood, and walked.

In my Japanese high school, there are always two students who say speeches: one from the art course and one from the English course. I am not certain if they have the highest grades, but these students are active high achievers. The English course students write their speech during the third years’ break and come to school a few times to seek the help of the home room teacher and native English teachers. The speech is usually in Japanese with an English section. It is amazing to listen to these two students, who have never had a single class together, work together, alternately saying portions of the speech. It takes about 20 minutes, and is memorized.

Graduation is a blur, but I remember having a limit on how many relatives could attend my high school graduation. Each graduate got five to eight tickets to distribute. Mom ordered invitations and sent them to relatives all over the country as a nice gesture. I do not think anyone flew in, but many people sent money. My sister, mom (my father passed away), 1 brother, godparents, and Sister Seamstress came! The men wore a suit or slacks with a polo or button down shirt. The women wore dress suits or sundresses.

In Japan, I do not think there is a limit to the number of relatives, though it is common for only immediate family to attend. The students wear uniforms. The teachers, honored guests, and many parents wear black suits. The principal and master of ceremonies, who is always the head of the office, wear tuxedos, often with tails! Our school’s former PTA president wore a kimono every year. The number of guests wearing kimono was less than 10%. I wonder how much the relatively high number of non-Japanese students and parents impacts the low percentage.

The US Graduation Program (found in a safety deposit box by chance):
Processional: “Pomp and Circumstance” (performed by our band)
Pledge of Allegiance
The National Anthem
Welcome (president of student council)
Words of Encouragement (senior class president)
Salutatorian’s Speech
Valedictorian’s Speech
Leadership Awards
Scholarships and Awards
ACT Highest Scores
Introduction of Speaker
Mayor’s Speech
Honorary Recognition
Congratulatory Message
Presentation of Senior Class
Awarding of Diplomas
Closing
Recessional

I will stop here for now. Next week, I’ll translate this into Japanese. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write them. Thank you for reading!

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