The Graduation Ceremony and Saying Goodbye

Posted on Feb. 22, 2024 ALT Graduation Day

In Japan, the graduation ceremony is a celebrated event.  This ceremony marks the end of the long school year. It gives the graduating students a chance to reflect on their school lives and prepare for the years ahead. 

Preparing for Graduation day

On the days leading up to the ceremony, some ALTs may be asked to say some encouraging words to the graduating students during their homeroom time.  Some students may ask their ALTs to sign their notebooks or write messages on their belongings. Try to keep your messages short and sweet. Also, try not to sign any belongings that may be considered property damage. Notebooks are the best way to go.

What do ALTs do on graduation day?

The event usually takes place in the school gymnasium and lasts for a couple of hours.  The attendees are split into groups: parents, teachers and graduating students.

Experiencing a Japanese graduation ceremony is a special treat for many ALTs.  In most cases, ALT are only required to sit quietly and observe the event. If you are not sure, find your head English teacher. Follow their instructions regarding seating arrangements and other protocols.  Just sit back and enjoy the experience. 

What to wear to Graduation Ceremony in Japan

The ceremony is a very formal event and all that attend are expected to dress accordingly.  Men should wear a black suit or at least a shirt, jacket, tie and smart pants. For women, please dress professionally. Either a conservative dress or pant suit in dark colors will be fine ( but ensure your skirt covers your knees).

Saying Goodbye

The end of the school year is often an emotional time for everyone.  The graduating students are preparing for a new chapter in their lives.  For many, memories come flooding back as they wander the halls one last time. 

Teachers are also emotional around this time of year as they say goodbye to the graduating class and think about the following school year.  Some teachers will be transferred to new schools and most will be teaching new grades.

For ALTs, the end of the school year can also be quite emotional.  It can be especially difficult if you are unsure if you will be continuing at the same school or transferring. In my experience, it is best to prepare for the unexpected as far as your next school year placement.  But when saying goodbye, it’s best to be present and mindful in the moment.  

For the graduating students, try to give them some parting words of wisdom or advice.  Try not to be too dramatic or somber. Try to keep it uplifting and happy.

For the teachers and staff, try to keep it light-hearted and casual.  I always go for the open-ended goodbyes.  There is always a chance that you will be working with them again, but there is also a chance that you won’t.  I’ve noticed that many teachers that I’ve worked with in the past have mastered this open-ended farewell.  Never too emotional, kind-hearted and well-wished, simple and short.  At first, it was a bit tough for me to execute. [I’ll see you…maybe?  I still don’t know where I’ll be placed next year so… for now, bye! It was fun!]  This sort of uncertain goodbye may seem strange at first. It gets easier with time.   

Learn more about school life as an ALT in Japan here. Want to work with RCS? Start your on our ALT Job application now.

Author: Musashino ALT, E.P