Welcome Back to School

With a typhoon fast approaching Japan, it looked like the first day of school for all divisions on Wednesday, Aug 31 might have been rained out. Luckily for all, the typhoon headed up the coast and students arrived to campus for a sunny start. For many, the first chance to catch up with friends, or make new ones, came with the bus ride.


Preparations for the resumption of the bus service had begun the week before with bus monitor training. Overseen by Greg Krauth, the new Director of Transportation, bus monitors learned about first aid, emergency procedures and how to ensure a happy and safe ride to and from school.

Parents saw their children off at home, the station and the bus stop, with heart-felt “sayonaras” and first-day photos.

Once students arrived to the Chofu campus, they soon discovered plenty had changed over the summer. Additional sections in grades 4 and 5 necessitated two fifth grade classes moving to revamped classrooms on the third floor of the cafeteria building. With the expansion of these grades, the elementary school opened at a record high of 540 with over 140 new students.

In high school, the science classrooms had been refitted to provide more flexible spaces that can accommodate increased lab work. The reconfiguration also enabled an additional science classroom to be created.

Karyn Watt (HS Science Teacher) details that “For the first time in recent history every science teacher has ‘their own’ room—although sharing still continues with use of specialist areas such as physics being shared among several teachers, all of whom teach advanced physics programs. Chemicals are now housed in a well-ventilated “Chem Store”  where teachers can prepare materials for classes with a fully-functioning fume extraction system. Having separate instructional and experimental areas will certainly be expeditious in the pursuit of excellence for our learners.”

The student courtyard emerged from a summer of construction, which saw the foundations laid for the erection of canopies next summer. Although the iconic school gate is temporarily in storage during this transitional phase, it will return at the end of the school year for graduation before the final part of the redevelopment begins. Once complete the student courtyard will provided 500m2 of covered space, providing more space for students, an additional 230 spectator seats for watching activities on the field as well as outdoor WiFi.

If you would like to learn more about the courtyard renovation project, check out our previous post, “Building for the Future: The High School Courtyard.”

In the cafeteria, students experienced a new lunch menu that was based on recommendations from the USDA MyPlate program and the UK’s Eatwell Guide. The improved menu choices were also a response to feedback we received from parents and students. The foundation of the new menu is a daily choice of three main course meals (including one vegetarian option), a salad bar with fresh fruit, a daily soup and a drink of milk, water or mugi-cha (non-caffeine wheat tea). With a new queuing system, things ran smoothly and efficiently with students getting through the lines in record times by the end of the week.

Riho (Grade 4) commented that she is happy the elementary school now has udon, soba and ramen as menu options while others, such as Emi and Ako (Grade 4) mention that they enjoy the variety of choices in the salad bar, “especially the little corn.”