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The Graduating 17 of 2023: Once a Husky, Always a Husky
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On June 15th, 2023, Hokkaido International School opened its doors to the community to celebrate the graduation of 17 Huskies. Students, Teachers, Parents, Alumni, and even former Classmates celebrated the next steps of the Class of 2023.

 

The Graduating 17 of 2023

Once a Husky, Always a Husky

J.Pangier


A long-standing tradition at Hokkaido International School—a private American Curriculum International School in Japan—is to give the graduating seniors "dog tags" inscribed with the school name, the graduating year, and six words: 

"Once a Husky, Always a Husky!" 

This sentiment is not just something to hand around your neck for a night, but to live out. And considering the number of alumni who come back to visit HIS year after year, these six words seem to fit our culture. I have been at HIS for nine years now, and every time I see alumni stopping back for a visit, I see two things in their eyes: pride and joy.

For the past three years, however, the pandemic has put a damper on visits. Serving as the senior advisor to the Class of 2021, it pained me that we had to close off graduation to only two visitors.

It was so nice to re-open the doors this year so that more could witness just one more thing that makes HIS special: our custom-designed graduation ceremony. Please enjoy the ceremony here:

Of the four schools I've taught at, HIS's graduation is my favorite! Why? Because it is intimate and special. While each class gets the option to customize the format of their graduation, one standard across the nine years I've been here has been for every student to speak (this has happened 8 out of 9 years). Hearing each graduating senior share their feelings and thoughts at this important final step in their high school career is what makes the ceremony so special to me, and this year was no exception. This year, every student spoke for at least one minute, while four keynote student speakers were given three minutes to share in greater detail their experiences.

Three of the four students graduated with a Capstone Diploma, two graduated with honors, and one, Hana Katayama, was a "lifer"—a recognition given to any student who attends HIS for 10 or more years. Hana attended HIS from the young age of six. Her words about the school—being a second home—and to her parents—thanking them for all the support—made me tear up as they somehow made me think about my own daughter who has been attending HIS since four. Hana's words made me wonder what my own daughter will say upon graduation day; they made me hope that my daughter would have the same degree of joy and enrichment that Hana had during her 12 years. 

"Lifer" Hana Katayama

On June 15th, 2023, 17 students walked across the stage to the applause of a wider audience for the first time in three years. It was great to see so many students, parents, alumni, and even former classmates (whose families moved outside of Hokkaido) return to the ceremony now that the HIS doors are open, once again, to the public. 

The graduation ceremony is, indeed, special. We must remember, though, that it is just the final celebration, commemorating years of hard work and accomplishments for the graduates alone. Many other Huskies are deserving of accolades. In fact, on the very same morning of graduation, we honored the secondary students with the final assembly, which included the transition from the 2022-2023 student council to the new group of student leaders; following that, were awards from classroom teachers and from the school. Enjoy the final assembly and awards here:


And as we move into the summer months, we remember our graduates with joy. To the 17 who walked across the stage on June 15th, 2023, we welcome you into our Huskies Legacy Association and remind you of the words strung around your neck: Once a Husky, Always a Husky!

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Join us for a Heartfulness Workshop December 4th with Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu. Mr. Murphy-Shigematsu is a psychologist and author in mental health, wellbeing, and diversity. He has been teaching and researching at Stanford University for 20 years as a faculty of the School of Medicine. You can learn more about Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu through his TED talks.

 

 

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