Earthquake and Empathy

Hello Everyone,

The impact map.

On Monday we had a shocking event. An earthquake shook northern Osaka, and we felt it all the way south in Wakayama. It was a scary moment because all the cell phones in the teachers room broadcast the warning at the same time. Fortunately, there was no damage at our school.

Later that day, the principal called all the teachers to the teachers room and told us that students would go home early. The train lines were delayed or stopped, so it was better for students to leave sooner rather than later to get home safely.

After refresh time, Mr. Kamioka made the announcement to all the classrooms. I was very unhappy to hear some classes cheering. I felt like some students didn’t understand how serious the situation was.

An elementary school in Osaka.

The students who cheered were only thinking about themselves. “I get to go home early.” “I don’t have to study this afternoon.” “I have some free time.”

Did you think about how serious the situation was? Did you stop to think about the problems other people were having? Did you wonder “I hope everyone is ok!” or did you just think about going home?

Part of growing up is having empathy for other people. Empathy is imagining how other people feel in a situation. In 2016 there were many earthquakes in Kumamoto that caused a lot of damage, including our sister school Kumamoto Shin-ai. Many teachers and students here worked hard to collect money to help them. I am sure that when Shin-ai students in Kumamoto heard about the earthquake on Monday, they imagined how they felt before, and had empathy for us.

So the next time there is a problem, don’t only think of yourself, but also imagine how other people are affected by it. And when we have an earthquake, or a typhoon, understand that this is not a good thing. There will be some damage. Someone may be hurt or even die. And don’t cheer a terrible event just because you can go home 2 hours early. That is selfish and childish, and I expect better.

Toronto Blue Jays

Hi everybody,

Now everyone is back from their school trips. I hope you had a good time! One cool thing happened for the girls who went to Canada. They went to a baseball game! The Toronto Blue Jays are Canada’s only major league team, so really it isn’t just “Toronto’s” team… it is Canada’s team! It was nice of them to welcome our girls to the stadium with a message on the scoreboard:

When I was a boy growing up in Canada I played baseball with my best friend. Even though we lived in Vancouver, we always cheered for the Blue Jays. In 1992 and 1993, the Blue Jays won the World Series. It is rare for teams to win two years in a row, but Toronto did it! The end of the 1993 World Series is one of the most famous homeruns in basball history.

In Japanese it is called a “Sayonara Hit”, but in English we call it a “Walk-off” hit, because afterwards the players walk off the field. The game is over. Joe Carter hit a walk-off homerun to win the series. Even though it happened 25 years ago, I still remember being in my living room, watching Joe Carter run to home.

I’m glad our girls got to have a major league experience, and that everyone came home safely. Thank you again to all the teachers and parents who helped put this trip together!


2018 Letter Exchange

Hello everyone,

School trip season has started, and today we said “Enjoy your trip” to the H2 girls going to Hokkaido. It is an important event in school life, so I hope they enjoy themselves. Next week other grades will go to Tokyo, Tokushima, and Kansai Aiport. After that, final tests are coming quickly.

In our M2 English conversation classes we have been writing letters to an elementary school in America. First, the American students wrote to us. Then, we replied. After that they wrote one more time, and this week our final replies will go back to them. Their school finishes at the end of June, so our letters will be a nice summer present.

The students in America study about Japanese culture, so our letters are a good way for them to learn about Japan. For our students, the letter exchange is only in English, so they have to use their English studies to read and write. Of course, everyone makes some mistakes, but it is nice to communicate with new people.

Here are a couple colourful letters we are sending. Good job everyone, thank you for your hard work!


Growing up

Hi Everyone,

Is it spring? Is it summer? The weather is getting warmer and many students are in short sleeves, but there was still a cool breeze through the classrooms this week as students were bent towards their papers, pencils flying.

We have just finished our week of mid-term exams. Shouts of happiness were heard in the halls as students left school today. There is a lot of pressure in test week, and a lot of effort spent studying and preparing. When the exams are finished, there is a feeling of relief.

Even though they cause some stress, tests are a good way to see how your studies are coming. It gives students and teachers a picture of how far you have come, and how far you need to go. Think about tests as a guide, because they will show you where you are strong, and where you need to get better.

We have a beautiful tree in front of our school. You may remember it at Christmas time when the lights are on it. Looking at it today, it is hard to imagine that it was much smaller when we opened the new school building. Fortunately it is spring, and nature gives us a clue as to how it grows.

You are all growing up, in body, mind, spirit, and knowledge. This week was a a difficult one, but, like the green on the tree, a chance to see how far you have come. Rest, relax, refresh, and be ready to go again on Monday!

Thank you Mr. Sakakibara!

Hi everyone,

For the past 19 years, the school has been opened in the morning by Mr. Sakakibara. Every day, rain or shine, he has arrived on his bicycle to open the gate and unlock the doors. Maybe you do not know his name well, but you have definately seen him every day. He is an important part of our school life. Today will be his last day before he takes a rest.

Mr. Sakakibara looking sharp, as always!

After opening the school each morning, Mr. Sakakibara helps keep our school clean by picking up fallen leaves and trash around the school, and he also waters the plants. After that, he changes back into his suit and greets students coming to the bicycle gate.

Mr. Sakakibara is also a member of Yakatamachi Church. When we have a mass, such as the new student mass or school trip mass, he is often there.

When we think of school, we think about teachers and students. But a school also needs supporters and staff. Shin-ai is not just a school, it is a part of the community. It is important to remember that.

So I hope that Mr. Sakakibara enjoys his rest, and I want to appreciate him for his hard work, greetings, and great smile every day. Thank you!

Shin Ai Festa… Thank You

Hello everyone,

Last Saturday and Sunday we held our annual open school, Shin Ai Festa! On both days, hundreds of elementary school girls came with their parents to take model lessons, and also check out the different clubs available. Even though Sunday became very rainy at the end, there was a wonderful turnout. Thank you to everyone who came and enjoyed our school!

For English class we had “Big Sister 2”. In this class the elementary school students worked with some of our grade 2 high school students to practice a self-introduction. After practicing, the guests could challenge three different English teachers to get three different presents.

Both our high school students and our guests enjoyed making these introductions, although Mr. Allen had a difficult time trying to spell some of the characters’ names…

For English Club, we decorated a room with different items of different colors. We then had students identify some different colors, and they also got a picture book.

Thank you to all the students that helped make the Festa a big success. I hope to see all of our guests here next year, either as students or for festa one more time!

No-face in the English Club room…
Making our self-introductions!
Ice Hockey in the hallway??

See you next time!

Donating Blood

Hello everybody!

Golden Week is finished and now it is time to get back to school. May is a busy month. We just finished Wakabasai Festival, and tomorrow we have Seibosai mass. After that it is the open-school Shin-ai Festa and then mid-term tests are here. Time goes quickly!

A question for you: What does the word “donation” mean? What can people “donate”? Usually people think about donating money or goods. But there are other donations too. At the school festival last week we had a special bus at the ground. In

the bus, students over 16 years old could donate blood. This blood helps people in the hospital, or people who have a bad accident. In English we say it is “donating blood” or “giving blood”.

Often in the news we see that after a bad accident many people lineup at a hospital to give blood. They feel like they want to help, and giving blood is one good way to help. However, hospitals need blood everyday, so it is nice if people give regularly.

Mid-term tests are coming soon. For grade 1 students, these are your first major tests at Shin-ai. Good luck! Start studying today!

Advice for new students

Hello everyone,

It is almost Golden Week and school is very very busy! Grade 2 and 3 students are getting ready for the school festival, and grade 1 students have finished their training camp. Every year, grade 1 students stay together for three days and two nights near Katsuragi-cho. They listen to a talk from Principal Morita, work together in groups, and  get advice from their teachers.

However, I wanted my students to get some help from their seniors, so this week I asked class H3D to write some advice for them. Here is one example:

Be careful with the word “homework”. It is not countable, so you need to say “a lot of homework” rather than “many homeworks”. The point about the class atmosphere is important too! I hope that after our training camp, my class has better teamwork.

Talk to you next week on the festival day!

School Festival Food!

Hi everyone,

Is your class getting ready for the school festival? This week I put up many posters in my classroom for the different food shops that will open during the festival. Let’s take a look at a few of them!

Let’s start simple, we have curry and rice from the cooking club. It should be delicious.

Next… Cheese and beef? Interesting combination. Only 3 per person, I want the spicy style!

M2A is opening a sandwich shop. I was told in today’s class that the strawberry whipped cream sandwhich is the best. It is also the most expensive…

H2B is opening a popcorn stand, which sounds good… until you put icecream on top. Popcorn and ice cream? Crazy!

Lastly, M2C is selling ice cream (without the popcorn!). Again, only three per person. This icecream is from Baskin and Robbins 31, so it should be tasty. There is also a nice wordplay, as the “I” in “Ice” uses the character for “love” 愛, which is also in our school name!

As you can see, we will have a very healthy festival. Maybe next year I will open a vegetable stand… See you next week!

– Allen

Welcome (back)!

Hello everyone,

It is the start of a new school year! Today the new grade two and three students came to school for the opening ceremony and to find out their new classes. We started the day in their old classrooms followed by some cleaning. After the assembly in the gym it was time to pack up and move to our new classrooms.

This year our school motto is: “お陰様”. While there is not a direct translation to English, we can imagine this means “Thanks to you”. So this year, when we are talking to our teachers, seniors, friends, and parents, let’s keep this in mind.

Tomorrow our new grade one junior high school and high school girls will enter our school. After that, Saturday is a day for long homeroom and classes start on Monday. I hope we all have a good year. I will be updating this blog once a week on Wednesdays. If you have some ideas or feedback, please let me know.

Until next time,