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,


English Recitation Contest and Year End

Hello Everyone,

Last Saturday was our English Recitation Contest. Two students from each junior high school class, so 24 in total, were chosen to compete. Each students practiced hard to not only remember a story, but to tell the story well. Grade one students read “Zorba’s Promise” a story about a cat who helps a young bird to fly.

Second grade students performed “Dolphin Tale”, about a dolphin who is helped by a young boy. The title has a double meaning as “Tale” means story, and “Tail” is the part of the dolphin that was injured.

Finally, grade three students told us about the story of Nishikori Kei. He is, of course, the famous tennis player that moved to America to practice tennis, even though he did not speak much English. In the story Nishikori tells us that he was not afraid of making mistakes in English, because he wanted to communicate with his coaches no matter what.

So, as we head into the spring holiday, think about Nishikori’s message. Come back ready to make LOTS of English mistakes, but as a result have LOTS of communication.

Thank you for this year and see you in April!


Are you A-chan, or B-chan?

Hello everyone! Well, tests have finished and the end of the year is coming soon. For grade three high school students, you will be starting a new exciting chapter in your life. Congratulations on your graduation and good luck next year!

For all the other students, spring vacation is starts next week. We can already taste spring in the air, and the time off is a chance to recharge and refresh. It is time to think about the last year and try new challenges in April. Ok, see you!

OH! I almost forgot one thing. I am sure your teachers have given you some spring holiday homework! For my class it looks like this:

JHS Grade 1 homework.

Now, some of you know my homework speech, but some of you don’t, so here it goes. There are two types of girls, A-chan and B-chan. A-chan gets her spring homework and starts it the same day. Everyday she does it little by little, and then finishes before the end of her spring vacation. After that she can relax and enjoy her time.

B-chan gets her homework, puts it on her desk at home, and then goes out to play. Everyday she looks at the homework and says… “Tomorrow.” Then one day she wakes up and realizes that her holiday is almost over! She has to do her homework for hours and hours in the last days of her vacation. She comes to school for her new class tired and not rested.

So, everyone, are you A-chan or B-chan? Which sounds better to you?

Hello Everyone,

Well, we are in the “home-stretch” (last part) of the year. On Thursday we will have our graduation ceremony, and next Monday final tests start. I am sure the music will be beautiful during the ceremony.

I was thinking about my high school tests at the end of the year when I was a student, and it was very different from Shin-ai. In my school, students from every class took tests together in the gym. Each row in the gym would be a different test, many teachers would watch, and students from many grades would be together. It looked like this picture:

Also, the tests were scheduled at different times. So, you might have a test in first period at 9am, and then the next test might be in the afternoon at 2pm. In between you could study in your classroom… or go outside school for lunch.

The end of the year is also a good time to think about the past 11 months. How about you? Do you think about how to become a better student? Maybe you will start a new study system, or change your daily schedule.

For teachers, we think about how to make our lessons better in the next year. In my high school class, I asked students to tell me which writing homework they enjoyed, and which they found too difficult. This will help me plan for the next year. Here is an example of one student’s feedback.

Good luck on your tests, and don’t forget to take a moment to rethink what kind of student you will be.

– Allen

Kudasai… mase?

Hello everyone. Sorry for the late update this week, but I wanted to wait until the junior high school singing contest had finished. Congratulations to all the classes who participated. It was a wonderful afternoon of both great singing and great piano playing.

One thing happened near the end that made me think… “What was that?”. After everyone finished singing we were waiting quietly for the judges to come back. Mr. Konishi made an announcement asking us to wait quietly for “a few more minutes kudasai mase.”

The reaction from the students in the gym was immediate. Students laughed and chatted to each other about he had said. I didn’t know why. I looked a one girl from M2A and she told me “He sounds like a store clerk being polite.” Perhaps the students were not used to hearing their teachers use that kind of polite Japanese in everyday situations. But yesterday many parents were at the school watching the performance so it was absolutely right.

After school I kept thinking about that moment, and trying to think of when the same thing could happen in English. Of course, there are some ceremonies that have special language. “We are gathered here today” is what you say at church or a wedding, not at a business meeting, for example. But it was difficult for me to think of any time adding one extra word to be polite in English would cause that same laughter from students.

The one word I did think about was “sincerely”. This word is used more in writing than in speaking, but the difference between saying “Thank you, I appreciate it” and “Thank you, I sincerely appreciate it.” is close to the same thing. Of course, speed and intonation are also important. If I am at a shop and someone helps me, I might say “Thankyouverymuch!” quickly, with my voice going up. However, if someone helps me with a big problem, I might say “Thank you, very, much.” slowly and with a lower voice.

Anyway, it was an interesting language point that was a small part of a nice afternoon. Good job again, and now get ready for your year-end tests!

Mother Teresa

Hello everyone. Last week during the morning assembly, Ms. Itani talked about a quote from Mother Teresa. It was a very moving story. After school that day, Ms. Okamoto and the other junior high school grade one teachers made a sign for each of our classes with the quote. Here it is in both Japanese and English.



Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.
Be careful of your words, for your words become your deeds.
Be careful of your deeds, for your deeds become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.


What you think leads to what you say. What you say becomes what you do. What you do becomes your life. And how you live becomes what people remember about you. So, if you want to leave a positive image in this world, it all starts with how you think inside your own head. Do you want to change your life? Then start by thinking positively.

Valentines Day has finished, and final exams are coming soon. This year has gone by so quickly! Make the last spurt your strongest!


Snow Day 2018!

Hi everyone,

“Hurry up Mr. Allen, finish the class!” That was the message this morning from my students after the bell rang. The air was cold, but the students wanted to go outside Why? It was snowing!

A little snowman looking out at the school.

Wakayama doesn’t get a lot of snow because it is warm and on the Pacific Ocean side of Japan. This is a lot like my hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Canada is a cold country, but Vancouver is beside the ocean and surrounded by mountains. It makes a warm pocket that protects the city from most of winter.

When I was in high school, however, my family moved to a mountain town. We got a lot of snow and cold weather every year. In Wakayama, our school is sometimes closed because of typhoons. In Canada, my school was sometimes closed because of snow. If the school bus could not go on the road to pick students up, it was a snow day! I remmeber listening to the radio every morning as they announced the schools that were closed.

Anyway, I am writing this at 11:30am, the sun is shining, and the snow is already melting. This is probably a good thing, because it is safer for everyone going home tonight. The snow is exciting at the start, but it can become troublesome quickly. Just look at Moscow, Russia today, which had a “storm of the century”. One month of snow dumped in 2 days. Yikes!

A record-setting snowfall in Moscow this week.

Have a good week,