Thursday, April 06, 2017

Going to Branden's high school orientation...

I have been very vocal on my blog and informative about our JHS in Japan experience. And I have received 2 emails from foreign mom's over spring break because their kids will be starting JHS in Japan tomorrow. And they had a couple questions. And good thing they did have my email address beforehand. But I do like to help out, if I can. And while I did answer their questions. I will be writing a few posts regarding my thoughts regarding JHS in Japan... as an American mom who has experienced the entire JHS experience from start to finish...meaning all the way through having a child graduate from a Japanese JHS. So having gone through it and having experienced it first hand. I will be posting quite a few posts about that topic soon. However.... just like I shared our yochien experiences. Elementary school experiences and JHS experiences. I will now begin to write about our journey into high school in Japan too. So that will be the focus of today's post. Again and although it should not need to be said...again these are *our* family's experiences. you may have different feelings and experiences then we do and if you do fantastic and wonderful. However as this is *my* blog....these are our experiences. So please respect that too.

March 18th was Branden's high school orientation. Branden's high school is broken up in 3 sections. There is general studies. These are just "regular kids" in the regular courses. Then there is a course for the super smart and we nicknamed their course "the genius course." So only the smartest of the smart can enter the genius course. And then we have the English course. And only kids with the highest level of English will be allowed or admitted into this particular school's English course. For the English course... there is no ALT (assisted language teacher) The white teachers here are not assisted by a Japanese translator helper teacher. The white teachers are their main teachers. Even their gym teacher is white. So the English course kids, are in their own part of the school in an English bubble. The genius kids are off doing genius-y things in their part of the school. And then there are just the regular kids and they're around their part/wing of the school.

There are no boys....zero boys allowed in the regular course. The only boys that are allowed in this school. Are boys that meet the requirements for the English course or the genius course. We liked this fact... very much. Because if general or regular boys were allowed here...then there would probably be a billion boys attending this school. This school only allows genius boys in here or English speaking boys in here. So...in a nutshell. They only want *good* boys here. No Shady Mc Shady boys are allowed here. For the freshman 2017. Branden's year. There is only 1 genius boy entering this school this year. And there is only 3 English course boys entering the school this year. Branden being 1 of the 3. So, in a nutshell. The entire school all 3 grades only has about maybe 15-20 boys total. In the entire school. And they're all either very studious (the genius course kids). Or very English-y. So no riff raff boys. No bully boys. It's also an *extremely* expensive school. Branden's first year of high school will cost Noboru US $15,000 the first year. About $8-10 thousand the second year and a little less the final year.  High schools here start from the 10th grade and go all the way up to the 12 grade. So...the sheer cost of this school also means. Only upper middle class kids/wealthy-ish kids will be attending this school obviously. So no riff raff here at all. And probably just 15 boys total for the entire school which is nice. It's basically...what we in America would call a prep school. It's extremely fancy shmancy. In Japan there are public high schools, I have mentioned this before and they are rated and ranked by smartest all the way to the dumbest (eek sorry) it's all available online. There is an actual website that shows the worst high school in Chiba prefecture... all the way up to the best public high school in Chiba prefecture. And then there is also private high schools. Private high schools can range from cheap in price private high schools. All the way to the very *very* expensive and fancy private high schools. It just depends on what you are looking for. Branden will be going to college in America. So for us...we wanted the absolute best English program there is. So that's why we picked the school we picked. We also liked the fact that there are so few boys. That means we won't have to worry about possible bullying. Not that we worry too much anyways...because #1 Branden is nice and gets along with everyone.. but also because Branden is huge! So bullying has just never been a problem for us. So yep...only 4 boys entering our high school this year and only 3 will be English boys. LOL. So back to the orientation. March 18th.

The note said...only bring 1 parent. However...we came all 4 of us. And I wasn't worried But Noboru who always obeys the rules. Was nervous about it. However...honestly? About half the kids brought both parents and there were many younger siblings there too. As in extremely loud 2nd or 3rd graders running all over the place, type kids. @_@ lol. Noah is quiet and well behaved, so he just quietly sat. Good boy that he is. : ) #1 go early. I am always early. Noboru is always 5 minutes late or right on time. This drives me absolutely bananas. Started at 9. We walked into the gym at 8:20am and Noboru was like...omg we're so early...we look like freaks. And ummm there were about a good 10 people/families in front of us. And I turned around and whispered..."hmm seems we're right on time"...the guy opened the doors immediately. And I had the entire family bring inside shoes or slippers. Branden wore his JHS inside shoes so did the rest of the new kids. And Noah brought his from shogakko. And I brought my slippers. We went to the wall/board of names and it told us which table to go to. He went to the far right table and gave his student number. And they obviously made a stamp in his name already because his pamphlet had his name on it. And the lady showed us to seat #1. The parent must sit on a specific side of the child in the gym.

Oh....the paper we got in the mail... also said. Make sure your child knows his own size of shoes and his own size of gym uniform. @_@ This was a little scary for me...because I *always* take my kids to buy their uniforms.... always have always will. I even went with Branden to buy his high school uniform at the department store. So...the note saying make sure your child knows his own sizes. Made me wonder...will us parents not be allowed to decide? I mean...it's not that I am overly pampering at all. Don't get it twisted. It's just....do you have any freaking idea how damn expensive uniforms in Japan are??? Hello??? And add the fact that this high school is...fancy Italian designer *everything* not brand X. So it's even quadruple more expensive. So...umm. #worries. #momisgonnahaveaheartattack, #letmomspickthesizes, #weknowbest. So we waited until everyone sat down. Noboru whispered to me...and btw he is the loudest whisperer on the planet. So he loud whispered...THIS IS THE ENGLISH SECTION!!! @_@ Bless his heart.

The guy, head teacher? I don't know anyone here at this new school yet. Goes up and talks for a bit. About 20 minutes. And then he says...the JHS kids will leave now and go and pick out their own shoes and gym uniforms. I had meanwhile been regular whispering the 30 or so minutes before it all began when we had to wait..."Branden remember...whatever you do don't pick shoes freakishly too big...but also don't pick too small either...you don't want deformed toes." @_@ Yes I said that, lol. I then added..."now you know you're about a 28cm but...some shoes run small and some can run big. So start at a 28cm as your starting point and then go from there." I then said..."don't pick a too small gym uniform either. I'd like you to wear it a full 12 months. If you get it just fit...it won't last the summer." He's all..."okay mom. I know. Don't worry. Okay okay." : ) Yes...ya'll know I am a worry wart. Nothing new here. : ) I literally also thought...should I go with him, even though parents aren't allowed.. to try on his outfit? Then I said...hell to the no! We would be famous and I mean in a bad way. Nope, no way. I will *not* do that to my son. So...I let my son go off and buy 3 pairs of extremely insanely expensive shoes without me. For a person who wants to handle everything herself, this drove me bonkers. And 1 gym uniform. @_@ And 1 school bag. And yes...in Japan...in yochien my kids had 2 pair of shoes. 1 for outside for their private yochien and 1 for inside. But...I have *never* seen a school in my entire life...need 3 pair of shoes!!! OMG. Super fancy shoes. So the JHS kids...or I guess future new 10th graders...future high shcoolers were gone for about a solid hour. And we meanwhile...went page by page...about the rules...and dos and don't. It was so boring. And because I was sitting in the first row...I had to look wide awake and flip pages and the whole shebang. Then the kids came back. I was so happy to see Branden. You would have thought he was gone for years. He gave me his order form. Which I read immediately. I asked him...did you pick the right shoes? Did you pick the right gym shirt? How was the sizing? He said...since there was just 4 of us boys. We all went to a classroom to try on our boy stuff. And the girls...there's so many girls they took the longest in a different part of the school. He also said...1 of the boys picked a gym uniform in size small. And the other 2 picked gym uniforms in size medium. Branden picked his gym stuff in size LL (fwiw that's just an American sized large, but a Japanese sized extra large, but the size is the same, Japanese sizes run small). And no... he's most certainly NOT fat...but he's no toothpick like Noah is. Bran was chubby as a 5th grader in elementary school... but that's because he was ready for height. He also said...the boys all picked shoes in 24 and 25cm. And Branden asked for a 28cm shoe...and they had none...so the 2 teachers had to run to the storage room to find a 28cm. @_@ umm apparently no boy... in this school has big feet or what? They did find a pair and so with the trial shoe...he found his sizes and then ordered what he had to order. He said...my shoes took the longest...all the boys had to wait. And...the Japanese teacher helping Branden is of course... way tinier and shorter than Branden. Hmm, in fact Branden is also taller then 2 of the English teachers too... but there is 1 extremely tall English teacher and that's the super nice head teacher and he's about 6 foot 5. So anyways about shoes and stuff...poor Branden....but...he did find his right stuff and it has all been ordered. Also...in JHS...we could use any bag we wanted. But at this high school. all bags must be bought at the school and they must all be the same. Same for the gym shoes...inside shoes and outside school shoes. @_@ Everything must be the same. @_@

So the kids were now back inside the gym. And we again listened to the endless speeches. This was about an hour and a half by the way. And then...the guy said...all English students and English parents please get up and go upstairs...there is a special meeting for you parents and a special meeting for you English kids. All the other kids and parents stared at us all... super hard. It's a little nerve racking when you see about 200 faces all staring. You just smile and push forward. So we went upstairs. And the English kids went into their English classroom with their American and Canadian teachers. And we English parents went into a separate room. They forced all us parents to buy our kids a lap top computer. There were order forms on each table. Noboru was annoyed and loud whispering. Its' practically normal speaking which is why I am using all caps. So he loud whispers. "THIS IS CRAP...WE ARE FORCED TO BUY THE MODEL THEY WANT? WHY CAN'T I BUY ONE ONLINE THAT'S NEWER AND BETTER AND FOR A BETTER PRICE?" People are turning around. Wondering who is speaking. I'm just beet red. Hahaha. Did I agree with Noboru? Yes. But did he have to loud whisper it inside the classroom? I mean hello...these parents obviously freaking love and respect English otherwise they would *not* be sending their kids to this absurdly expensive fancy English program in the first place. And ummm more than likely most people in this class understand exactly what we are saying. @_@ So there! I said not one word. Except for a soft..."well, if they say the kids need one...we wouldn't want Branden to be the 1 lone kid without one, would we?"...my sentence was so quiet that Noah didn't even hear the whole sentence. Then Noboru loud whispers again...YES I KNOW AND I WILL BUY IT... BUT THEY"RE SCAMMING US ALL...I JUST WANT THEM TO KNOW. I softly say...Honey I now think everyone knows how you feel now. Let's just talk about it in the car. : ) I mean der...do you want to give the folks in your kids future class...this first impression? I mean...omg. : )

By the way...if it wasn't obvious...the most expensive course for this school, is the English course. No other course...not even the genius course gets a lap top.

So...we now leave the parent room... where we were all just forced to order the lap top. And I am meanwhile people watching. Parent watching. Looking around the classroom. Oh and also...1 other father was having a fit about the lap top too. And lucky for us we were sitting at the back of the classroom. My observations. These parents look super uber fancy. And while we do have a fantastic income and all. I am really not fancy shamancy at all. I mean like *at all* EXAMPLE... If there is 1 girl who likes to show off...look how expensive my coat is or look how expensive my bag is. I'm the total opposite. I like to show off how *cheap* or how *discounted* I got my plaid bag for (30% off btw, haha). Or what a good sale I got. I'm also obsessed with Target. I now live in very rural Japan. Where I  legit... pass cows daily. I see clumps of dirt on the street because of the farmer trucks driving down the regular roads. Meanwhile at this high school...everyone has designer bags. One lady is legit wearing a fur coat I catch this as she's ordering her child's lap top. Everyone has this air of snooty-ness. Hmm. I hope I change my opinion. But that's my opinion as of March 18th. @_@  Oh...what was I wearing? I wore really cute jean gauchos, like super wide leg capris...and black tights under my jean gauchos. A super tight fitting ballet neck top and a black cardigan and a Burberry scarf. However I have had said scarf for a billion years. I was wearing a ballet pair of inside slippers. I'm wearing minimal makeup. My eyebrows were on fleek though. And a MLBB lipstick.

When we exited the parent room. We were to stand there and wait for our kids. To my utter complete shock and surprise. Here comes Branden and a new friend. A boy from the English course. The shocking thing for me was....I see 2 boys walking and talking in English with one another. At the same fast speeds, I speak to my kids and they speak back to me. They are both speaking to each other. As fast as you'd see 2 native English speakers speaking to one another. And then Branden walks to me and turns to his new friends and says..."catch you later"....and the boy says..."alrighty see you" I am now waiting for Rod Serling from the Twilight Zone to enter. Because I know...I must have just entered the Twilight Zone.

I'm still picking my jaw up off the floor. And we are walking down the stairs. To leave the building.

So when we were buying the lap tops. Which the kids will get on the first day. The kids were seeing each other for the very first time. Also...omg I forgot this too. One of Branden's yochien classmates will also go to this English course. And her older sister is currently in the English course but is 1 grade older then B and the girl from his yochien. Branden does Line her sometimes...because there is a special LINE group for kids from Branden's yochien year. And then Bran is in a LINE for his JHS too. So he does know 1 person. And she is luckily a girl since this school has tons of girls, it will be nice to know at least 1 girl.

Since March 18th, when the English kids were in the class together. They all made a freshman English course LINE group already.

Also apparently there is a LINE group just for the boys all high school wide, which is just for genius boys or English boys. All 12 or so of them. And because Branden is friends with his former yochien classmate. Her older sister knows some other boys And so they Lined their Line codes and invited Branden into the boys only Line group too. Thank goodness she has an older sister. They live in the small city nearest our town. So Bran is in the English high school Line group and is also in the boys only high school Line group too. It's greatly matters who you know. Who is connected to who. Word of mouth. Again...all this stuff is happening because the kids now days network for themselves.

Anyways....Today, Noah started his first day as a 6th grader. It was just a half day today. Tomorrow Noah has a full day. And Noah's new teacher this year is the same exact man teacher... he has had for the last 2 years. So Noah will have had this teacher for 3 years straight. LOL.

Branden does not start school until next week. But tomorrow we have Branden's entrance ceremony into high school. So I'll be wearing a ceremony outfit tomorrow. I hate having to dress up, but I will. Noboru will be in his entrance outfit too. Because Noah will be at school tomorrow. We will have to take the highway there and back. To make sure we make it back to our tiny town by the time Noah gets out at 2:50pm tomorrow. We will be going out for a celebration dinner tomorrow night to celebrate Bran officially entering high school.  You know...I have said it a billion times. Japanese JHS sucks!!! There's no way to pretty that fact up. It's true. It's study study. They try their best to turn you into a borg! A mindless robot. But the silver lining is high school in Japan!!! High school in Japan is going to rock so much!!!

Branden spent 9 years from 1st grade through middle school. Where kids thought speaking English was not interesting. English? So what!!! Who cares. Not important. I always told him. I know how important English is!!! Everyone world wide *knows* how important English is. Your classmates might not care about English, in a rural farming town of 5000 residents. But believe me...you will thank me in the end!!! And now he's in a high school....where speaking English is....encouraged. Speaking English is seen as beautiful. Speaking English is a wonderful thing. Speaking English is a plus *not* a minus. Speaking English is an advantage never a disadvantage. He is now in an environment where people say...sugoi. Meaning...wow wonderful. You speak English. And my kid can finally flourish. And grow and just bloom. Branden is blooming and he's shining. And IF you have a hafu in Japan who grew up going to regular schools and your kid also is a native English speaker... then you will understand what a beautiful thing to go to a school where they celebrate speaking English. Because believe me. Speaking English has never been a disadvantage (us parents knew this all along). It has always been his strength and his advantage. So...yes. Just get through JHS in Japan. The best you can. High school will be better, I promise. If we are still living in Japan, when Noah is high school aged, Noah will attend this high school too.

As we were waiting for Noboru to come out of the restroom at the high school and after the boy and his dad greeted us and left. Branden's future classmates....were passing us and 1 girl in particular she and her mom...the lady in the fur coat...anyway her daughter pointed and said in Japanese to her mom..."look that's the cool boy, who speaks English (she meant Bran) and look at his foreign mom (me) and his little brother, aren't they so cool?" And fur coat mom said genuinely..."wow they are very cool" ....Seriously ya'll? Coming from rural Japan. Where I wear an apron sometimes when I pick up Noah from school. Because most mom's do too. And we're not about putting on airs in the countryside. It's not uncommon to see 5 or 6 little white K farmer trucks pick up grandkids or kids. For folks to come pick up their kids wearing muddy rain boots to pick up their kids (protection from wet rice fields and snakes too.)  I was actually thinking...do they seriously think we're cool? Us? Like seriously, us? My kids don't even think I'm cool! Ha! : )  So anyways...that's it for now regarding high school orientation. Tomorrow is the entrance ceremony. I'm not nervous or scared at all. I'm just happy for my son. Excited for the years of fun he will be having. High school is going to be a blast for him. So, I am just so happy for Branden. Sorry if this post is a mile long. Sorry if my picture I drew sucked, again I'm not a professional artist or anything. anyway...that's enough for now. : )