On account of the depopulation sapping Shionoe of its children, it has finally been decided that operating 9, 40, and 90 student elementary schools was no longer practical. Following what they did with their the nurseries a few years ago, the three schools are being consolidated into just one. It means a longer commute for most, but it looks like they will implement a bus transportation system to address those needs (rare for Japan).
On the one hand, I think that it will be better for the students to be in ‘normal-sized’ classes. They will have more opportunities, more potential friends, and will actually manage to field a soccer team at lunch. Despite the gains, it’s hard to ignore what will be lost. Certainly there are a number of school traditions, activities, and songs that will disappear in favor of something new. More than that though, the culture of each school will undoubtedly change. I’m sure that whatever comes of the concoction will still be wonderful given the nature of the kids, but because each of my schools bears such a diverse working environment, to lose those discrepancies will indeed be a loss.
Then of course my thoughts go a little further and I start to wonder whether the agglomeration of students under one roof would even necessitate a full time teacher like myself. It would certainly be possible for the teacher in the next town over to cover both bases, but then Shionoe faces losing its one and only its only link to the outside world. Fortunately for me, I’ll be gone before this all takes place and wont have to endure the transitional period but I can’t help but feel like I manged to sneak into an environment fast disappearing from this ever urbanizing world. Well all that aside, this is the first of a couple updates detailing the construction efforts and progress. I would expect that the only person to enjoy reading this is my predecessor, since he is likely the only reader with any knowledge of my school.
So….firstly, this shot from the teacher’s room shows that all auxiliary buildings have been razed: club storage rooms, the pool, student entrance, and also a machine shop. Of course, the landscaping has all been cleared out as well. Don’t worry though, all the rock monuments that Japanese schools are so in love with have been saved.
The second shot is of the backside of the school. Up until recently, this was nothing more than a small dirt path often used by mailmen on their scooters. It is still dirt for now, but the path has been widened considerably and has also become the primary entrance. The metal shelters are where the students now park their bikes. The logic was that they wouldn’t need to contend with the ‘dangerous’ trucks that come and go on occasion at the other entrance, but this location is much closer and will likely be a permanent move.
That’s all I have for now, but I’m really looking forward to them breaking ground and building something substantial. As a bonus, they installed AC in the classrooms (also rare for Japan) because the construction noise will limit the ability to open windows. Hopefully the teachers are brave enough to use them, because any relief from the sticky summer heat would be a welcome treat.