3rd Year's Graduation
February was over and March had arrived. Koichi and Saki had turned 10 and 13 in the meantime. Students everywhere were eagerly counting down the days till Spring Break, but none more so than the Enoshima 3rd Years, who would graduate and move on to their lives.
Two days before Graduation;
Monday, March 14th, White Day;
"All over the place I see boys handing gifts back to girls for the chocolate." said Yuki as they took their seats in class "I've yet to see a single decent one matching my taste though."
"That's just your opinion, since you don't have a man." said Yuzuki, displaying the emerald necklace her new boyfriend gave to her
"Oh, arrête donc! [shut it!]" said Chloe, who looked just a grumpy as Yuki "I gave chocolate to a guy I've had my eye on for months, and I received rien! [nothing!]"
"It means 'nothing'." Keiko clarified "He may just be a little too shy to make his move. Besides, it's not every day that a Japanese guy receives chocolate from a beautiful blonde European girl. We'll see."
"Yeah, peu importe [whatever]." Chloe mumbled "Being the lucky girl you are, I'm sure Saito already gave you something by now."
"Speaking for myself, Saito didn't manage to get me anything either, but I let him off for that."
"Why?" Miho asked curiously
"Well for one thing, he couldn't get another part-time job, and he's been busy with an art seminar he was invited to. He's got dreams too ya know." At that moment, Saito, looking extremely tired, walked in and took his seat "Rough day yesterday?"
"So many new things to learn about art." Saito replied "At least I'm through with it for now. Come Spring Break, I'm all yours."
At that moment their substitute teacher walked in "Settle down, everyone. In your seats." Once everyone was seated, he made his announcement "Now, I have good news for you. Though it's still a ways off, Murasaki-sensei will be coming back from maternity leave after spring break." excited muttering aroused form this announcement "Silence please. It has been my pleasure teaching you, even if it was just for a few short months. Now, let us move on to the task at hand; we're going down to the gymnasium to rehearse the graduation ceremony of the third years."
Rehearsal that day went without a hitch. Before anyone knew it, Wednesday had come, and Graduation along with it.
Wednesday March 16th;
With end of year classes suspended for the ceremony, all the first and second years were seated in the gym first, followed shortly by parents and families of the third years. The third years themselves followed shortly after. Keiko and her fellow first years noticed Suzuka, Miki, Tsukasa, Nagisa, Yamato, and the other third years of the boys team, as they were seated. They also noticed Hinako, who had relinquished her post as SCP weeks prior.
Once everyone was seated, as three piano chords played, the head of ceremonies asked everyone to stand and to bow to the Japanese flag. That done, the National Anthem was sung;
♫ May your reign ♫
♫ Continue for a thousand, eight thousand generations, ♫
♫ Until the pebbles ♫
♫ Grow into boulders ♫
♫ Lush with moss ♫
Followed was the Kamakura City Song, then the School's Song.
After the singing, the third years were called up, one by one, by class, to receive their diploma from Principal Iwaki. Keiko and Yuki couldn't help but notice Nagisa shaking with enthusiasm as she received her diploma at last, and both had to fight back a laugh. Finally, all the graduating third years received their diploma, and Iwaki stood up to the mic to speak.
"Another school year... gone, and a new one is just around the corner." said Iwaki "The cherry blossoms are blooming again and the days are getting warmer and longer. But before we become engrossed in new beginnings, we must say farewell to our graduating seniors, who will now embark on an even more demanding journey. Graduation is not the end, but the beginning. Whether it be to college or to work, their new lives await them. But now it is time to say farewell, but not goodbye, to our upperclassmen, who will always be welcome in our halls. And now a word from the Head of the PTA."
Takaharu Tsukahara, Hinako's father, stepped up to the mic once he was called. However, the students of the school, including Keiko and her classmates, wordlessly made it known that he was an unwelcome guest. So he made his speech, which received no applause, rather short. After his short speech, Hinako, as representative of the third years, was called up to speak.
"As Principal Iwaki said, the cherry blossoms are in bloom again and the days are getting longer." said Hinako "These three years at Enoshima were unforgettable to me and my classmates. When I look back at them, I see that we had our ups and downs. Many of us were knocked down, but many of us managed to get back up again. These three years were precious to me, and I wouldn't trade them for anything in the whole world. We came in as children, and some of us may still be so, but now we leave much more mature than when we were when we first arrived. I love Enoshima High, and I love my fellow students. Watching my underclassmen grow up has brought me great joy. And now, as an outgoing student, I humbly ask them to watch over our incoming first years. I will never forget my time at Enoshima as I leave it behind to those who will now carry the torch high." Hinako backed off from the mic and said "With this last bow, I graduate." Hinako bent her waist into a bow, which was met with thundering applause.
After one last speech from Iwaki, everyone was dismissed from the gym and went to wander the school. Everywhere Keiko looked she saw seniors making last high school memories with fellow seniors and underclassmen. She even noticed first and second year girls taking the buttons off of the sleeves of the third year boys.
"Our middle school graduation last year wasn't nearly as big as this." said Yuki as she, Keiko, Saito, and Chloe made their way the school field, per a text from Suzuka
"Well, this is high school for ya." said Keiko "What was your middle school graduation like, Chloe?"
"We call middle school 'Collège' in France. High school is called 'Lycée'." Chloe replied "And my graduation last year was dull, very dull."
"Then we'll ask no further." said Saito
"There they are!" said Keiko, spotting the whole team gathered on the field. the four of them went to join them "What's going on?"
"We just wanted one last goodbye to the team before we left Enoshima for good." said Suzuka, diploma in hand, who then noticed that a few of the girls were crying "Oh, come on. Don't be like that."
"CAPTAINI!" three girls cried, hugging Suzuka in tears
"Now, now." Suzuka said as she patted their heads
"So what's life got in store for you after all this? College?" Yukari asked
"I'm going to join my brother in Jindai." said Miki
"It's Nittaidai for me." said Suzuka as the girls released her "Keiko, I'll make sure to recommend you and hope to see you there in 2 years time. But you best earn it first."
"Hai!" Keiko replied
"I'm going to Keiso." said Tsukasa "Maho-senpai and Onee-chan have been pressuring me ever since you two turned them down." Suzuka and Miki tried to give an apologetic smile but couldn't manage it
"What about you, Old Girl." Amuro asked Nagisa
"College is out for me." Nagisa replied, pretending she never heard "Old Girl". "It took me five years to graduate, so this is the end of academics and soccer for me. I'm just gonna take over my family's cakery."
"Too bad then." said Haruhi
"Running that cakery isn't all bad." said Momoko "I love the cakes they make."
"Special discounts to all current and former members." Nagisa told them
"All right!" the team chorused
"Good to know you four have your futures planned out." said Mai, who just turned up with Yusha in her arms along with Mina "Hey everyone."
"Coach!" the team chorused
"What are you doing here?" Akane asked
"I can't see my third years one last time before they go?" Mai asked with a giggle
"Is that your son?" Sachiko asked, eyeing Yusha with adoration
"This is Yusha all right." Mai replied as she held him so he was facing the team "Yusha Murasaki, a great player in the making."
"He's so cute!" chorused half the team starry-eyed
"It's still hard to believe that little baby is Keiko's baby brother." said Tsukasa
"How do you get so lucky?" Yui asked Keiko
"My name doesn't mean 'Lucky child' for nothing." Keiko replied. Yusha then spotted Keiko and tried to reach her. Mai adhered to Yusha and allowed Keiko to relieve her arms of him before addressing the team again
"By the way," said Mai once she handed Yusha to Keiko "I've been needing to ask something."
"Yes, Coach?" the team inquired
"Last year, almost all of the then second years left, for reasons I still can't comprehend. That won't happen this year, will it?"
"No, ma'am!" the second years chorused hastily
"Good, since I'm returning to duty after spring break, I don't want to lose a majority of the team."
"You're coming back so soon after having Yusha-chan?" Moka asked
"Yusha's finally old enough to drink formula now, and Mai finally yielded to my mom's offer to babysit during the day." Keiko explained as Yusha played with her necklace, having been aware of this for some time
"Good timing too." said Mina "I've been offered a position as a coach for SF Frankfurt. It's what I've always wanted, so I'll be going back to Germany before Spring Break's up."
"We'll miss ya." said Yuki
"What about you, Chloe? You sticking around?" Aoi asked Chloe
"I really don't have a place to go back to anyway." Chloe replied "But I've grown rather fond of Enoshima, and this team. I'll stick around 'til we graduate ourselves."
"And, Saito-kun? We all know you joined the Art Club, but will you remain our manager?" Asuka asked
"I can juggle both. Provided we recruit another manager or two this April." Saito replied
"Consider it done." said Yukari
"I can see this team's in good hands." said Mai, and Suzuka nodded in agreement
"The four of us can now graduate with no regrets and move on." said Tsukasa
"We won't let you down!" the team chorused
"Then let's take the 'end of year team photo'." said Mai at the very same time Yamato walked nearby "Ah, Koishikawa-kun, good timing. We need someone to take one last picture of the girls' team with myself in."
"Sure, Murasaki-sensei. I'll do this." Yamato replied as he also took a quick glance at Suzuka with a smile.
Mai then gave her camera to Yamato and everyone got in position for the shot. In matter of seconds, a couple of pictures were finally taken by Yamato. "There you go."
"The photo will hang on the wall of the clubroom tomorrow morning. Thank you, Koishikawa-kun." Mai said
"My pleasure, Murasaki-sensei."
"So, you've come to pick Suzuka up, Senpai?" Keiko asked.
"Yep. We want to enjoy the whole Spring Break as much as possible before we start the next semester at the Nittaidai." Yamato replied before Suzuka added "We still have some catching up to do after all this time. There are so many things we always wanted to do together."
"That's great. I have a feeling you'll both make the most of it."
"Hear, hear!" said Amuro in her Okinawan accent
"Well, Aizawa, I want to thank you for all the good advice and all the help. We'll never forget it." said Yamato
"Well, good luck you guys and see you around soon." said Keiko
"Okay." Suzuka replied before she took Yamato's hand "Shall we?"
Then both Yamato and Suzuka walked ahead towards a new chapter of their lives, all under applause from the remaining members of the Enoshima Girls Soccer Team. The Team's third years had now gone from Enoshima High, along with the rest of their class. Spring break came not too long after. A new school year awaited them, along with a fresh new batch of talent for the team.