Thursday, May 13, 2010

Walking to school

I have been on the job as a crosswalk guard for a month now. My uniform seams have been taken in and buttons relocated. From May I've been wearing a SKIRT! (and stockings... boo).

The children coming to the elementary school pull from a wide area, some of it farming. School policy asks that all children walk to and from school and there are no school buses provided. Some of the children walk more than an hour though the closest neighborhood is about 10 minutes away. On rainy days parents occasionally drive their children to school but that is frowned upon and considered spoiling. The main road is fairly busy but most of the children walk along the farmers' roads that wind between the rice fields and through forests.

At the beginning of the year the school assigns students into groups of 5 to 10 and the fifth or sixth grader in the group is given the role of leader. He makes sure everyone arrives safely and at times is responsible for carrying a first grader's heavy load or holding hands with a reluctant younger student. Some of the leaders take their roles very seriously and have all the kids line up behind them military style! Can you see the line of students in the distance making their way to the school from the residential area?

On Monday mornings the children carry lots of bags filled with toothbrushes, indoor shoes, lunch duty uniforms, library books etc. not to mention the required leather randosel (backpack). The kids in sports lug equipment, the kids in band carry instruments. Everyone looks very tired when they finally arrive at school on Monday mornings. (But they all look very fit. Not an overweight child in the bunch.)

Here is a picture of the school though you can't see the gymnasium behind the main building. In the foreground you can see the final group of students arriving at school with their randosel slung on their backs (one girl was carrying it on her front) and the yellow randosel covers that let drivers know that these are first graders. The yellow hats are a requirement too. Yellow berets for girls and yellow caps for boys.

This is the school where both Takumi and Leiya attended and I have fond memories of their school days. I hope the kids do too.

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