In Taiwan, elementary schools run K-6. Even though most kids continue to the same junior high school (grades 7-9), graduation is a relatively big to-do. While I do remember having an 8th grade graduation, I do not remember having a 4th grade graduation... and I don't remember shedding tears about either situation.
I wasn't able to attend Fu Xing's graduation ceremony, as it was held on Tuesday morning when I had to work at Tai Ping's English Village. I don't teach any 6th grade classes anyway, so at least I didn't miss out on any serious goodbyes. Instead, though, I went to see my host brother Kevin graduate from his elementary school on Wednesday evening. I sat in the back corner, so my pictures aren't great quality, but it should be enough to give you a sample.
The graduates (10+ classes of 6th graders-- Yang Ming is one of the biggest schools in Kaohsiung) process in...
The teachers put on a dance performance. Fulbrighter Rebekah, a Yang Ming English teacher, danced in the middle:
Representative students symbolically and literally "pass the torch" to some fifth graders:
I did manage to sneak to the front to get a picture of Kevin with his class (he's the one smiling and looking at the camera):
At one point, a younger student started talking to Rebekah and me. She had her pet pigeon with her. Not really related, just amusing:
I caught up with Kevin afterward and we got a picture. I'm leaning over a little, which is why he looks so much taller than me... but yes, this kid has grown at least five inches since I met him in September!
Kevin exits through the ceremonial graduate gateway... as Rebekah is a "retiring" teacher of sorts, she got this honor as well. I should note that she does not always have heavy makeup and hair glitter, but was made up like that for her dance performance:
After the graduation, I took Kevin out for a nice sushi dinner to celebrate his graduation. (See the rotating sushi restaurant chain described in my last post.)