Yesterday was Class Match (Kurassu macchi), a day in which the first and second year students (third years are graduated and gone by now) compete as homeroom teams in various sports. Boys played soccer and girls played volleyball. Although the boys only played during the morning, due to rain, the girls' volleyball tournament continued all day, from 8:30 to 3. Of no surprise to me by this point, they were SO into and extremely coordinated as homeroom teams. Matching outfits, colorcoordinated to class year (blue for first year, green for second) and small choregraphed cheers before and during the games. SCREAMING, oh the screaming.
One homeroom team consisted of my first group of cleaning students, so I have a few special friends there. They were so excited to see me watching them and asked me to lead their pre-game cheer, which consisted of huddling, saying something motivational like "do your best!" and then putting our hands together in the middle and yelling as we throw our arms up. They made it to the finals!
After the boys soccer was cancelled, they came to cheer on their female homeroom counterparts. Boys slowly started peeking in through the doors, and then flooded into the gym, watching from the sidelines and balconies. Girls on teams between games cheered on their classmates or passed out in a corner from exhaustion.
The closing ceremonies involved no fewer than SIX speeches from the Principal, various faculty and distinguished students. Awards were distributed, winning teams announced, and sage wisdom dispensed. The students sat on the gymnasium floor silently, a few awkward cheers slipping out from the winning homerooms as their victories were acknowledged. One student's head began to bob in the early stages of "sleeping during something you're supposed to be listening to" and one of the other English teachers briskly walked over to where he was seated, and yanked his head up by the collar. This is fairly common.
But altogether it was a great event and it was so nice to see a different side of my students. It was refreshing to see them cutting loose and acting like regular teenagers; very reassuring that they are HUMAN. I think that special planned sports days and events like this help ensure that the grueling and academically sterile environment is maintained and respected on an otherwise regular basis.