School-wide traditions are an important part of what makes a school feel like a community. Stone Soup has been part of ROCS's fall season programming since our inception. This spring, our Japanese language and culture educator Meridith Kiyosue provided a perfect spring bookend. Our first Happyokai & Mini Matsuri was held on May 5th, Children's Day in Japan. It combined a celebration of learning with a spring festival that our students, teachers, and families worked hard to prepare for and enjoyed.
Happyokai translates to "student recital." For ROCS's Happyokai, students put on two plays - How the Years Were Named performed by our kindergarteners and 2-day students & Momotaro (Peach Boy) performed by the 3- and 5-day students. The students practiced their parts for weeks and parent volunteers helped design, build, and sew the sets and costumes.
Before, after, and in between plays, students sang a collection of songs in Japanese and English.
Following the happyokai, we ventured out onto the grounds of First Unitarian Universalist Church in Clintonville for our Mini Matsuri (festival). We enjoyed a picnic outside with food from Ninja Bowl food truck, a reunion for our children with the natural play area they used during the 2016-2017 school year, and traditional Japanese festival games and crafts.
The matsuri was inspired, in part, by Marysville High School’s Iya-sensei, an annual event that supports a student trip to Japan each summer. This year that event was held in April and Red Oak sponsored a booth. Many ROCS students and their families attended. They had the opportunity to enjoy traditional Japanese matsuri activities such as aizome (indigo dyeing), eating kakigori (shaved ice), and trying on yukata (summer kimono). Meridith was especially eager for ROCS students to see and hear traditional Japanese music played on instruments our students had previously only heard in recordings during mindfulness exercises in which she has students listen to traditional Japanese music and try to pick out the different instruments - the shaku-hachi flute, the strings of the koto and, everyone's favorite- the powerful taiko drums. Those who attended the Marysville event were treated to a performance by Dublin Taiko, and were also invited to play the drums during the Taiko drumming workshop.
After spending some time in the ROCS Iya-sensei booth, a veteran who served in Yokohama during WWII commented "It's important for children to learn about a place that is very different from what they know and understand. It's a great opportunity that you're giving them." For Meridith and her family "attempting to balance the Japan part of our lives while living in Ohio is tricky. Being in a position where my child can share that part of family life with close friends and teachers is incredible." We wholeheartedly agree and feel honored to have you in our midst.
A planning committee is already working on the 2019 ROCS Happyokai. We can't wait to see how it plays out!