Secondary School Principal's Address at the School Assembly August 23, 2016


Principal’s Speech, School Assembly               August 23rd, 2016
Good morning, students. On this great occasion with the entire school gathered, I would like to convey my message to each and every one of you. I do hope that you are prepared for another chapter of school life. You look healthy, cheerful and refreshed after the long holidays. The semester-end tests will begin in a few days. You must try your hardest, believing in yourselves. Good luck to all of you.
Before I get to the main point of my speech, let me refer for a moment to what’s been happening on the other side of the globe, that is, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I wonder if you were as impressed as I was by the terrific attitude shown by those Japanese athletes who refused to give up. Their incredible achievements showed us once again what it feels like to be a challenger.
Now let me tell you a little story that has a serious point for us to consider. A sixteen-year-old high school student in Fukuoka happened to be seated on the bus next to an elderly lady behind him one day in July. The boy’s name was Hiroto, and he soon  noticed that the 91-year-old lady was on the wrong bus after listening to a conversation between the lady and the bus driver. Hiroto decided to help her as she was getting off the bus. The boy called his mother, and they decided to give the lady a lift. As they searched for her house in the dark, the boy’s mother drove slowly so the lady could remember which house was hers. In the meantime, the police had been searching for the lady for two hours. Fortunately, the lady arrived home safely thanks to the great help offered by Hiroto and his mother. Their speedy and appropriate assistance was greatly appreciated and recognized by the police.
This story has a special meaning for all of us. I am always interested in the process of making decisions concerning one’s behavior or actions. Whatever decision one makes, we are supposed to engage in critical thinking even if the situation is urgent and we have to decide quickly what to do. Accordingly, we may rely on intuition, values, and experience. We also have to be able to account for every decision we make. 
Here’s another story. Have you heard of the name, Chiune Sugihara, a former Japanese diplomat in the Republic of Lithuania. Mr. Sugihara is said to have issued thousands of transit visas for refugees from European countries like Poland when the country was ruled by Nazi Germany more than 70 years ago. By issuing these visas he saved the lives of at least 6,000 people. We can easily imagine that Mr. Sugihara worried about whether or not to issue all those transit visas. Finally, he decided to issue visas for humanitarian reasons.
Now, the story of Chiune Sugihara may look totally different from that of the high school student’s act of kindness to the elderly lady. However, there is a similarity between them. In both cases the people involved had to go through the process of critical thinking. Critical thinking does not always bring us to one clear answer. Rather, it makes us wonder how to think from a totally different perspective.
As the proverb goes, “Practice makes perfect.” The goal is to be able to think flexibly and try to reach the stage at which we feel comfortable and convinced about whatever we’re doing. Please bear in mind that we value critical thinking in daily lessons. Indeed, it is the thinking process that leads us to concrete action.
 On that note, let me conclude. The rest of the first semester continues until the end of September. I would like every one of you to lead a full school life in both regular classes and extra-curricular activities. Good luck to all of you. Thank you for your attention.

夏休み明け全体集会校長講話         2016年8月23日
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