Thu., Oct.19@Palm Harbor Middle School

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We finally visited Palm Harbor Middle School, as our final school visit. The students seemed to be pfoud of their school, since some students wrote PHMS (=Palm Harbor Middle School) and so on, on their arm using a marker.

Outline of the School (from my note)

This school has about 1,400 students ranigng from 6th to 8th grade.

The students are supposed to learn social studies, math, science, and language arts. And there are selective classes such as Home Economics, Spanish, band, chorus, computer, and Wood Shop. Each student take 6 classes a day. The first class starts at 9:40 a.m., and the last class ends at 4:00 p.m.. The beginning time in the morning is later than it of Japan (for example, the students in my school are supposed to be at school by 8:25, and the first class starts at 8:45), maybe because of school buses and the longer period which ranges 54-60 minutes (normally 50 minutes in Japanese junior high schools).

Students who want to play sports can take one club activity out of basketball, track, volleyball, and cheerleading. In Japanese junior high schools, every student is expected to select and join one club.

Ceremonies for opening/closing semesters and school trips does not seem to exist in the middle schools in this county.

The school building is two-storied and has 49 ordinary classrooms and 7 special rooms. I was surprised to see many bikes parked behind the school buildings, because I thought that using bikes to go to school was prohibited in the US schools.

These are pictures of Wood Shop class. Unlike 'Industrial Arts,' the name of such class in Japanese schools, the students' imagination seemed to be emphasized.

The lunch time. They have to be in a row to get their food, select what they want to eat, pay, and finish eating within as short as 30 minutes ! Even they must have been busy in eating, they smiled at me when I was preparing to take their pictures. Oh, how they were pretty !

I asked one student to show me the inside of his bag. He said OK, and showed me. I found a lot of textbooks and notebooks there. The bag itself was enough big that seemed to be like the one designed for a trip.

These pictures were taken after lunch, before the 4th period began. Students were in a hurry to go to their classes. I found two men who seemed to observing the students and seemed to be teachers of this school. Were they checking the students who would be late for class ?

There was a huge exhibition asking for volunteers for schools, near the entrance hall. I heard that the Principals of schools go around asking for volunteers. I believe that this kind of effort makes their schools better.

This is a computer class. Plenty of Macintosh computers were there. After getting what they do from their teacher, the students moved to a computer to solve the task, sometimes by connecting to internet. Some old computers were also exhibited in the classroom.

I'm not sure but I guess it was a geography class. The task saying 'Research your country' on the blackboard. I was surprised to see a web page address were also written there. This does not happen very often in Japanese schools yet. The class finished a little earlier, so the students came to the entrance of the classroom, waiting for the bell rings. They do so maybe because they will be scolded if they go out of the room during a class period.

This is a science class. The teacher asked a lot of questions to the students, using OHP and monitors. The students don't seem only to remember the content, but they seem to think and exchange their ideas.

I looked into the cafeteria after school was over. The cafeteria without any students looked so broad. Some words to welcome us and lunch menu were written on the blackboard in the room we first entered. Although this is a small kindness, we were moved so much. Then we gave some souvenirs we brought from Japan to the students who worked for us. Toys like 'Kendama' were liked by them.

On our way back to the hotel, I took some guide plates from inside the bus. This is a picture which I took when we were running toward St.Petersburg.

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