The 2012 Tokiwagi 1st Year Skit Festival!

Hi there good people of Internetland and fans of TGH international everywhere. It seems like this is awards season- where rich and famous people give each other gold statues, pat each other on the back and tell each other how awesome they are. Well, we here in the TGH English faculty didn't want to be left out of any silly traditions so we've designed the TGH 1st year skit festival to coincide with this, the schmarmiest (that's not really a word), shmoosiest (that sort of is) time of year. So without further ado, lets check out the SkitFest!
The competing groups in the first row, going over their lines one more time.
The hushed crowd behind them, warming up their eyes, ears and brains for the onslaught of English language that is about to befall them.
Our 3 MCs from the International course- Narumi, Mana & Maple. Thanks for volunteering girls!... after I strongly suggested you do. Narumi & Mana just passed the Eiken step test, and I'd like to think some of the Skitfest English on display was absorbed and utilized during their interviews.
Our first skit was from the International course. It wasn't in competition for the top prize since all three of the participants won't be in Japan this summer when the winning group goes on to represent TGH at the All-Miyagi High School Skit Contest. Sumire and Mizuki will be homestaying in the U.S. and Marine will return to France (C`est La Vie). Anyways, Mizuki did win the Individual Best Actress award for her performance as a jilted apparition and they also grabbed the group prize for Best Action Sequence. The skit's title was `Ghost Bad Romance`.
The next skit was from 1-4 class and it was titled `Yaah!` Two girls sang a silly song which gave instructions to two more girls that did a silly dance and then exclaimed something afterwards, such as "I want a big bust!". It was a big hit and is currently skyrocketing up the charts. Nene Sato took home the individual award for Loudest and they claimed the group award for Funniest skit.

Next came the SBC class girls, who really put a lot of work into it by perfecting the timing, choreography, lighting and a bunch of other dramatic details that I don't know much about. The story was also deep and meaningful, which is why they claimed the prize for Best Message. Yunna Ara was the main director and put her blood, sweat and tears into the performance, which is why she walked away with the Most Impressive Effort Individual award. The Title of their skit was `The World Is Money.`
Next came some lovely young ladies from 1-3 class with a skit called `Deserted Pets`; a sad story about a couple of... rabbits/bears/cats? that get thrown away. The story was poignant and touching but really everybody just remarked about how cute they were and that was hard to disagree with so we gave them the gongs for Best Costumes and Risa Ozawa & Nami Kikuchi shared the individual award for Most Glamorous
`An Idol's 365 days` was the title of 1-5's entry. They took home the Best Stage Props award and Natsuki Watanabe totally rolled over the competition for the Individual Most Enthusiastic award- remember that name as I'm sure superstardom is just around the corner waiting for her.
Next up was a crowd favorite from 1-1 class. The title was `Cafe` and the place went crazy when a straightlaced volleyball club girl came out dolled-up in a maid's costume. Kyoka Oyama won the award for Most Charismatic Aura and the girls took home the team prize of Cutest Skit.

Next came our Inter-1 entry from Rurika, Haruka and Minami. The title was `School Rules`- a morality tale about a bad girl and a good girl and where their attitudes lead them. Rurika Akagaki did a very good job in her role and won the individual prize for Best Pronunciation. Unfortunately they were plagued by giggle attacks and there were some wardrobe (and hair) malfunctions so the top prize elluded their grasp, but they did recieve the award for Easiest Skit To Understand.
Finally we come to the 1-2 class performance, with the title `Where Is The Thing That I Lost?`; a story about a strange creature that takes your valuables. It was the best all-round skit, with a little bit of everything, which is why we decided to give it 1st PLACE! Congratulations also go out to Rito Yagi, who claimed the Best Memorized Line Delivery Individual prize. Good Luck in the All-Miyagi Competition this summer girls! TGH will be cheering for you!


Remembering Yuka Nakazawa...

Yuka Nakazawa entered Tokiwagi Gakuen as a first year student in the International class of 2007. I and Miyuki Kudo were her co-homeroom teachers. Yuka followed in her older sister's footsteps, who had also gone through our International class program. She was quieter than most of the other students, but not out of shyness- she just chose her words carefully and knew when to express herself better than most. She had many qualities, but two that I remember quite well were that she was very down-to-earth and was also a good listener; these made her very approachable and resulted in her making friends quickly and easily.  

During Yuka's third year at Tokiwagi she participated in a one-year homestay in the United States. She was sent to Florida, and by all accounts had a wonderful time there. I remember upon her return to Japan she was asked to give a speech about her homestay experiences and she delivered one of the most positive ones I've ever heard (and I've heard a lot). The reason for this was being that Yuka was a girl who was extremely easy to get along with and she proved this everywhere she went. In her years at Tokiwagi I can't remember a single incident, or problem she might have been involved in. Her consistantly high grade levels further enforced her image as pretty much a model student in every way. 
One unique decision she made that stands out in my mind was to return to Tokiwagi's International course after her classmates had graduated in order to be qualified to enter University. Most International class girls returning from a homestay situation do not choose this path- it meant entering a tightly-bonded class of girls a year below her and midway through the semester. The transition was a little awkward- in the first class I taught them with Yuka added there was definitely a feeling of separation and distance between her and the others. But this was Yuka: by the end of the school year she'd won them over and they graduated together in the Spring of 2011 as close friends. It was 11 days before the Great East Japan earthquake.

I mention the earthquake because in the hours, days and weeks after it happened the primary efforts of the people here were to make sure everyone had survived and were safe. Some of the houses we've all seen floating away in the tsunami belonged to our staff, students, Yuka's classmates. I remember a horrible, anxious feeling in my stomach for weeks as I braced myself for the worst news. But all Tokiwagi students were eventually accounted for, and although we were shaken by the incident we were incredibly relieved that everyone had survived. We picked up the pieces and moved on, considering ourselves lucky.

Yuka had been accepted in the English program at Dokkyo University, Saitama.  Although I hadn't heard how she was getting along since graduation her facebook pictures suggest that she was continuing with her habits of traveling the world, having fun and winning new friends. Then last Friday just before I left school for the weekend I was given news about Yuka that at first I did not believe; it simply couldn't be true. It was true, and that terrible feeling in my stomach returned. 

On February 9th, 2012 Yuka went on a snowboarding trip with her friends. They had a really good time that day. Upon returning to the main lodge that night she was conscious and coherent but her condition suddenly deteriorated. The medical report said that Yuka passed away early Friday morning due to a stroke. She was twenty years old and planned on returning to the United States next month. 

"She loved Tokiwagi so much.
And we loved her." - Miyuki Kudo

Our deepest sympathy goes out to her family, friends and loved ones that are left behind.


Two More Out Into The World

Our small class of young ladies is getting smaller by the day. As posted before, Manami left in early January for a homestay in Fiji. Here's a shot of her goodbye party:

As you can see, our ballerina in London- Momoka, returned for the winter holidays and took part in the chorus competition (she sings almost as well as she dances). So they're both back abroad; dancing and levelling-up their English (...and Fijiian?).
Then, last Saturday two more of our girls hopped on a plane for a homestay. Nonoka & Nanako are now in New Zealand and have contacted me to tell me that they are doing fine and that their host families are very kind. Here's a montage of party games we played outside the classroom last week in a 'farewell girls' long homeroom:
...and here's our girls departing from Sendai Station. Destination: Christ Church, NewZiii!

Very fashionable clothes girls but I'm sure you've realized, not really practical for a long airplane ride (I dress in pajamas and a bib). Also, I think Nanako brought a suitcase full of rocks, judging by the weight when I tried to lift it. Now our Inter1 class sits at 9- with a candle in the window for their globetrotting sisters.


Swan Song...

So, our little class were heavily outnumbered during the 1st year chorus competition but we managed to come away with 3rd place- not bad! The girls made a pretty big noise that filled the hall and moved some to tears (mostly the girls performing the song). After we collected third we were happily surprised to hear that our tireless conductor Nanako was awarded the individual fighting spirit award for her dedication and effort; and rightly so!


Back Up and Running?

Hi folks. My computer and this blog have not been getting along so far in 2012 and 3 posts have not been able to go through. I'm trying again with this very short one and a picture and if I succeed you'll get updates aplenty. Yosh!

The picture seems to have been accepted- wahoo! It's of Manami & I. Our first year girl who left for a Fijian homestay in early January. Her facebook page says she's doing fine. Notice I went for the Noir Santa look- always bet on black!