The new school year means new teachers as well. As I have mentioned before, teachers can be transferred around at the prefecture’s will. Among the people leaving my school: biker-sensei (one of my English teachers), Hobbit-san (the math teacher who I always challenged to Rubiks cube-offs), two retiring teachers and multiple teachers who had been at my school for a long time. We also lost our vice principal and principal. This was particularly unexpected because we just got a new VP last year.
Because of the timing of my trip to the US last year, I had missed a lot of the goodbye festivities. On the teachers’ last day, there were many speeches given. First was the official goodbye speech at the morning meeting. Everyone stood as the leavers made their speeches and there was a lot more sniffling than normal. Then there was an all school assembly for the students to say goodbye. I was actually surprised by the number of graduated students who showed up. A lot of them looked all official in their suits and work clothes.
After that, everyone more or less went about their normal day. Some of the teachers who were leaving spent the time packing up their things while others had taken off the day to go figure out their new living arrangements. My vice principal, for example, was transferred to Nichinan, which is about three or four hours away by car. He had a weekend to go down, find a new apartment, and organize moving.
That evening was the goodbye party. There was another round of goodbye speeches, now fueled by alcohol and more food than any one person could ever eat in the history of ever. Still suffering from jet lag, I skipped the afterparty and walked home. Teachers who have been transferred don’t actually start working at their new schools until April 1st, so I still had Monday and Tuesday to say goodbye to the teachers I felt I needed to say goodbye to.