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Amparo Bertram

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06:01 pm: News Flash: No more Morijo
This is the last year of Moriyama Girls' High School's existence.

And, no, I'm not joking.

I only heard about it for the first time today, but apparently it was in the newspaper last week, taking everyone--parents, students, and faculty--completely by surprise. (No one told me about it, so I only found out at the Opening Ceremony today.)

The story is that the city of Moriyama gave financial support to Heian Women's College to build a branch campus in town. Last year they decided they would move back to a different campus in Osaka somewhere and wouldn't need this one anymore. Moriyama said, well, in that case, give us our money back. The college replied they couldn't do that.

So the mayor negotiated with a private educational foundation called Ritsumeikan (which apparently has ownership of the Heian Women's College Moriyama campus). Ritsumeikan agreed to convert the campus into a high school and allow the city of Moriyama to use it free of charge--but! The high school would become Ritsumeikan's own private high school and no longer a public school.

The mayor decided that he would convert Moriyama Girls' High School into Ritsumeikan Moriyama High School. Starting next spring, with the new school year, the students will officially become Ritsumeikan High students. Not only that, it will no longer be a girls' school, it will be co-ed. It will have a general curriculum with two tracks, math/science and English. The mayor had intended to reveal this decision to the school faculty at a meeting on April 4th, and then have the teachers tell the students around April 20th once the school year had gotten underway. However, somehow the story leaked to the press and was published in a newspaper on March 30th.

The faculty of the school are furious that the mayor would make such a decision without consulting--or even informing--anyone connected with the school. The students all feel betrayed. Keep in mind that high school is not mandatory in Japan, so every student at the school chose to come to this particular school, and many commute up to an hour to get here. The business and home economics majors are aghast that their majors will no longer exist at the new school.

The mayor, superintendent, and other city dignitaries came to the Opening Ceremony to answer students' questions. Many of the students were sobbing or quivering with anger. Unfortunately, no one had any good answers to a lot of the questions because the details of the deal haven't been hashed out yet. Here's an example, though, of the kind of answers the students received:

Q: A number of girls entered this school because it's a girls' school, and they don't want to attend a school with boys. What about that problem?

A: We'll have a temporary counselor come to the school, so anyone with concerns can talk to the counselor.

Yeah. Like that'll fix everything.

This school year will go on as usual while the college campus is being renovated. Once the renovations are complete, we'll abandon the current high school building and move there. It isn't clear when that will happen. Current students have been promised that the conditions under which they were accepted to the school (such as fees, etc.) will continue at the new school until they graduate.

And then...the teachers. No one knows what will happen to our jobs, because we're all employed either by the city of Moriyama or the prefecture of Shiga, and the new school will be a private school. I'm particularly concerned, because I still haven't been given a contract to sign for next year, and there's the possibility that they'll disinvite me from staying. My only consolation at the moment is that they've worked me so thoroughly into the schedule that the other English teachers would be hard-pressed to cover for me in the fall if I were forced to leave this summer.

I'll post further details as I learn them.

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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:April 8th, 2005 05:09 am (UTC)
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I'm particularly concerned, because I still haven't been given a contract to sign for next year, and there's the possibility that they'll disinvite me from staying.
!!!
I thought, at worst, that you might have to leave next April when they move to the new school, which would suck, but it would only be a few months early. But the idea that you might have to go home this year? THE PITS. T_T I hope everything works out okay. *hugs*

(But if worst comes to worst, you can always come and live with me until you find a job with Nova ahahaha.)
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From:mangaroo
Date:April 8th, 2005 11:14 am (UTC)
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I'm an idiot. (But we all knew that.) I didn't get that her standing this year was at risk.

I'll hope for the best. Please let us know as soon as you know anything, 'kay?
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:April 8th, 2005 01:35 pm (UTC)
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But the idea that you might have to go home this year? THE PITS.

Like I said, the other teachers are working me into the schedule as usual (*so* as usual that I didn't expect a thing before the announcement). It's just the lack of contract that disturbs me. Hopefully I will get to stay at least until March. And there's always the possibility that the city will just transfer me to a different school (though they already have JETs).

(But if worst comes to worst, you can always come and live with me until you find a job with Nova ahahaha.)

^_^
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From:sara_tanaquil
Date:April 8th, 2005 06:13 am (UTC)
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That's awful!! (And they don't TELL you something this important? Sometimes I really wonder what is wrong with the Japanese when it comes to communicating with gaijin.)

I'll keep you in my prayers, if that has any efficacy at all!

{{{{spacealien_vamp}}}}
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:April 8th, 2005 01:39 pm (UTC)
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And they don't TELL you something this important?

I really don't get that. Remember Monday, how I mentioned the teachers were all in a long meeting until noon? That's one of the times they were meeting with the mayor to talk about this. When they came out and saw me at my desk, did anyone think to say, "Did you hear the news about the school?" No. Not a single person mentioned it. <sigh>

I'll keep you in my prayers, if that has any efficacy at all!

Thank you!
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From:firesign10
Date:April 8th, 2005 06:51 am (UTC)
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What a shock! You just wrote before going to the Ceremony and then to go and hear all that there! The last thing you must have expected to hear, jeez. Perhaps they haven't had you sign a contract yet because they didn't want to tip their hand before the big announcement, since a new contract would have to be with the new school's identity? So now that the announcement's been made, they'll do the contract? (Or maybe it's more of that "assumption" stuff, that they "assume" you know you'll be teaching in the new school, and just no one has gotten around to telling you because of the "assumption"!) It's awful to walk in and find your whole life turned upside down like that, and be in such suspense about your future. You have all our best wishes that this WILL work out well, and keep us posted!!!
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:April 8th, 2005 01:44 pm (UTC)
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(Or maybe it's more of that "assumption" stuff, that they "assume" you know you'll be teaching in the new school, and just no one has gotten around to telling you because of the "assumption"!)

Maybe...but I can't see myself being assigned to a private school. As far as I'm aware, ALTs are city or prefectural employees, so they're always at public schools. (They will have an English track, though, so maybe they'll want an ALT...?)

A lot will probably depend on the US side of the sister city arrangement, too. (I wonder if they've been told about this...)

You have all our best wishes that this WILL work out well, and keep us posted!!!

Thank you. I'll be sure to keep asking for updates so I don't have to depend on what people think to tell me.
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From:megory
Date:April 8th, 2005 02:28 pm (UTC)

Sister city relationship

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A lot will probably depend on the US side of the sister city arrangement, too. (I wonder if they've been told about this...)

I just spoke with Nina Howard on the phone about this. She knew already because the exchange teacher from Moriyama reads the paper on line and was very concerned when she read about it. She and Nina spoke about it already. Of course, she teaches business.

Nina didn't realize, though, that the school officials hadn't signed a contract with you, yet. She can imagine their frustration with being left out of the loop. Nevertheless, the said that the mayor values highly the sister-city relationship, so she expects that he would want to honor the fact that you have already been invited to stay another year--even if the contracts aren't signed yet.

But it's all speculation on our part. The devil is in the detail when such big changes happen. Nina says that the group the mayor made the pact with (the long word beginning with R) specializes in preparing students for international work. She thought they would certainly value the exchange teacher and student program, and might even want to strengthen it. From an exchange school perspective, Nina sees it as an advantage if we could send boys as well as girls to Moriyama for school. I had to remind her that students presently there picked the school for what it is now. There is a lot to think about and so many perspectives.

We'll be looking forward to your updates.


[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:April 8th, 2005 06:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Sister city relationship

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Nevertheless, the said that the mayor values highly the sister-city relationship, so she expects that he would want to honor the fact that you have already been invited to stay another year--even if the contracts aren't signed yet.

That's definitely a comforting thought!

From an exchange school perspective, Nina sees it as an advantage if we could send boys as well as girls to Moriyama for school.

That would certainly be more fair on the Adrian end.
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From:megory
Date:April 8th, 2005 12:48 pm (UTC)

I'm stunned!

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Wow! That really explains the feeling I got when I met the new principal and the new vice principal--the part where I wished them a great year. Their response was anything but what one might expect. I thought I was missing a cultural clue then. It was just my sheer ignorance of the position they were in. Their demeanor exuded dread over the idea of the coming year. It really was.

With all that is going on, they might easily forget that they haven't formalized the contract signing with you. It seems that they might at least be able to sign you on until March, the end of their school year. That would really get you back home (if you wanted to) in time to be in the running for job announcements here.

It might be wise to mention this situation to one of the friendlier English teachers there for his/her advice and maybe advocacy for you.

If all else fails, you might at least want to mention it to the vice principal.

It is so hard to work under those conditions where everyone was left out of the loop. It's not even clear where to direct the anger except to the mayor, who isn't in the building.

So, the next step is how to make the best of it. Last year when we realized it would be the last year ever for Springbrook Middle School as we knew it, our principal just determined for us that our goal would be to make it the best year ever. It was really hard with all the uncertainty and the preparations that had to be made for all the changes, but it helped a lot in our planning process.

In today's world where the only constant is change, these situations keep cropping up. They are never easy. If there is anything we can do to help, let us know.

We're sending our love and prayers for you and all of those students, teachers, parents, and administrators who are dealing with this shocking news.

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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:April 8th, 2005 01:53 pm (UTC)

Re: I'm stunned!

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If all else fails, you might at least want to mention it to the vice principal.

I will definitely have to bring it up. He's the one who has done all my paperwork up until now, so he should at least know what the right forms are.

Last year when we realized it would be the last year ever for Springbrook Middle School as we knew it, our principal just determined for us that our goal would be to make it the best year ever.

That's another one of the issues. The parents/guardians of the incoming freshmen were, of course, just as upset as everyone else. One asked, "My daughter is in the business major, which we now know will disappear at the new school. What do you think that will do for student motivation?" The mayor was kind of vague in answering such questions, but at some point it was mentioned that the students should do their best to uphold Morijo traditions.

In today's world where the only constant is change, these situations keep cropping up.

One of the other teachers asked me, "Does this ever happen in America?" I could only say, "Usually not this suddenly..."

We're sending our love and prayers for you and all of those students, teachers, parents, and administrators who are dealing with this shocking news.

Thank you. There's going to be another meeting for students/parents on Sunday, and then a further meeting with just students, possibly on Monday.
[User Picture]
From:mereflair
Date:April 8th, 2005 04:57 pm (UTC)
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arrrgh, I'm so sorry babes, how frustrating!
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