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American High School Senior Traditions: Prom/Senior Skip Day/Pranks 
 - NHK E-Tele "SNS Eigojutsu" #Graduation (aired 2018/05/24) | LANGUAGE & EDUCATION #002
Photo: ©Derek Makishima
2021/06/15 #002

American High School Senior Traditions: Prom/Senior Skip Day/Pranks
- NHK E-Tele "SNS Eigojutsu" #Graduation (aired 2018/05/24)

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Translator / Interpreter / TV commentator


1.Prologue: Behind the Scenes

For this episode we tried something new out at the top of the show—our resident English teacher Naito-sensei started with a quiz: What is the Japanese title of the classical piece “Pomp and Circumstance"?

The answer was “Ifuu Doudou" (威風堂々), and the piece is better known as "the graduation song," instantly recognizable to any American. Pomp means splendor or grandeur, while circumstance in this instance means ceremony.

Just like the episode where we featured #StarWarsDay, many of the posts we talked about today were accompanied by photos. To keep their reactions fresh, Kato-san (our MC) and Hide-san(her partner in English) remained in their dressing rooms until the actual taping. For rehearsals, we had two members of the staff stand in for them.

Later, in the meeting room, someone mentioned the possibility that there would be no more rehearsals, for any of us, moving forward. That instantly stirred up memories of how anxiety-provoking pop quizzes were for me back in school. I vote for keeping the rehearsals.

2.American High School Senior Traditions

This week we talked about graduation season in the U.S., along with the formal tradition of senior prom and pulling pranks.

American middle schools and high schools will often have several dances a year, usually held in the school gymnasium or other similar on-campus venue. Senior prom, however, is a special occasion on the same level as graduation itself, and as such is usually held in a place like a hotel reception room.

As we talked about on the show, asking someone to the prom (or being asked to the prom) is seen as a defining moment of your high school experience. In the social media age, kids have taken to going bigger, with more and more elaborate setups to stand out from the crowd. (The escalation is their own doing.) They spend large amounts of money on tuxedoes, rental limousines, and more, with the total amount of money spent per person increasing every year.

Prom scenes are also a key part of any film or TV show chronicling the American high school experience. The big dance finale of the Kevin Bacon film Footloose takes place at prom; the climactic scene of Brian de Palma’s Carrie—based on the Stephen King book—also takes place at prom.

As for me, I was very shy in high school and would inevitably be a wallflower at school dances. I was not too keen about going to prom, but a friend and fellow wallflower convinced me to go with him as platonic friends, saying to me, “We only have one prom."

As for pranks, they come in many forms and fall into a range of categories. Sometimes an entire class will come to school wearing pajamas or some kind of costume. Or maybe a teacher walks into their classroom to find all their students with their desks facing toward the back wall. These all fall into the “harmless prank" category, but sometimes pranks go too far, such as when students cause damage to school or teacher property and/or the cops are called. In that sense, the prank we featured on the show, where students at a Wisconsin high school made it look like a car had crashed into the school, was a masterpiece.

Many American high schools also have a tradition known as Senior Skip Day—ostensibly where teachers look the other way while 4th year students cut class—somewhere between prom and graduation. (Some schools have officially banned the tradition.) Good students take advantage of this day to ditch class and their responsibilities—for once.

Growing up I fell in love with the John Hughes film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and I always dreamed of the moment I would have my chance to skip school. But come Senior Skip Day, I ended up going to class as normal.

3.My Wardrobe This Week

Suits every man should own

This week on the show we talked about high school, but graduations in general—college graduation, or moving on to a new job—are defining occasions in your life, and as a man you’ll want to acquire a wardrobe that suits who you will become, or who you hope to become (pun intended). Today I’d like to talk about the three suits that every man should have in his closet. Depending on your line or work or your place of business, it may be necessary to acquire more; but for men who rarely wear a suit, these three are must buys.

First, every man should own a navy suit. Navy is a staple of men’s business wear, and for good reason—it goes great with a wide variety of shirt and necktie combinations, plus, it works in the office and for formal events. The first suit I ever bought was also navy. Side note, we shoot on a blue screen on the show, so navy is a no-go.

Second, every man needs a dark gray suit. Light gray is a bit more challenging to pull off, but dark gray is like navy in that it goes well with a variety of shirt and necktie combinations.

For your third suit, choose the one that best matches your lifestyle. If you attend (or plan on attending) formal events, get a black suit. If you want to stand out from the crowd, get a striped or plaid suit—something other than a solid-color suit. For someone with a strong build, go for a double-breasted suit.

Double-breasted suit by GlobalStyle

Double-breasted suit by GlobalStyle
This is the second double-breasted suit I’ve ever worn, after the first one I wore on the April 26th episode (#ShoTime).

I had this charcoal gray pinstripe suit made at GlobalStyle’s Shinjuku Southern Exit branch. There are a bunch of narrow lines running down the suit, and I was afraid I’d be creating another moiré pattern, but my wardrobe got the green light. What a relief!

I’m an American, but there’s a part of me that aspires to the ideal of the British gentleman, so I kept things low key with the suit: the lining is also in an inconspicuous gray, and the buttons are black.

The suit is made of a GlobalStyle entry-level fabric called Microfiber Spun, but it has a bit of stretch and is easy to move in.

Up until recently I’d always thought of suits as constricting. But since I’ve started appearing on this show, I’ve had more and more occasions to wear a suit, and I’ve been lucky that the suits I’ve worn have all been comfortable. These days suits don’t seem so feel so stiff anymore. Double-breasted suits, especially, have the effect of bracing you for anything that may come your way.

White button-down shirt by Fabric Tokyo

White button-down shirt by Fabric Tokyo
I had this button-down shirt made back in March 2018. At first glance it looks like a regular solid white shirt, but get closer and there are subtle white stripes.

This shirt from Fabric Tokyo is wrinkle-resistant, so if you promptly hang it up and straighten out any wrinkles after washing, you’ll end up with a crisp shirt without any ironing.

New shirts tend to be a little rigid—a little too crisp—especially around the collar area, so I recommend putting it through the wash before wearing it for the first time.

The single cuffs are mitered, meaning that the edges have been sawed off at a 45-degree angle. Rounded cuffs give off a gentler impression, while these make you look sharp.

Double monk shoes by Paraboot

Double monk shoes by Paraboot
Shoes are a key part of my wardrobe. For this taping I wore a pair of brown double monk shoes from Paraboot—a model called “Poe".

I was drawn to the darker brown, as well as the pebble-grain pattern, which gives the shoe warmth and charm.

I ended up buying a pair that was a half-size larger (10.5) than my black Paraboot “Avignons" (10), because the fit of double monk shoes are a bit on the tight side.

Gray slacks by Brooks Brothers

Gray slacks by Brooks Brothers
For trousers, I went with charcoal gray spring/summer stretch fabric trousers, specifically Regent Fit Plain-Front Brookscool Trousers.

I regularly play sports and my upper thighs and hips are on the larger side, so I make sure to get my suit trousers with pleated fronts. These trousers are designed to be comfortable when you sit down, so this pair has been great.

Brown leather belt by Brooks Brothers

Brown leather belt by Brooks Brothers
There’s a belt section on the first floor of Isetan Men’s, but with my waist size, selection becomes limited. This brown belt is something I bought at the tall-and-plus-size section on the seventh floor.

In the past, I was of the mindset that as long as the prong went through one of the holes on the belt, it fit. But according to BigBrother, the best fit for a belt is when the prong falls right around the fourth hole.

Brown glasses by Zoff

Brown glasses by Zoff
In need of glasses without any outwardly visible metallic parts, I went to Zoff in Shibuya, and found these brown Wellington-style frames for a cool 5,000 yen (along with another pair of black Wellington-style frames at the same price point).

Wellington-style refers to frames that are shaped like (sometimes slightly rounded) trapezoids, wider at the top than they are at the bottom. The thing is, I’ve never heard this term used in the States before. If I had to describe it, I’d say these brown frames have the basic Wayfarer shape, only the bottoms are more rounded.

Epilogue: The Day My History Teacher Pranked Us

In the U.S., it’s standard high school and/or college student behavior to prank teachers in one way or another. However, the one prank that I will never forget is the one my history teacher played on us.

It was right around the time we were getting ready to start applying to colleges. This history teacher took us to the computer lab one day to do research on what schools we’d potentially be interested in applying to. Partway through the class, the principal of the school suddenly showed up, and told us all to stop working. With a stern look on his face, my history teacher began to speak. “There’s been a problem with our computer systems, and all of your grades and school records have disappeared."

Every student in the class was shocked and speechless. There were even one or two who cried. As for me, my mind was completely blank, and what the principal was saying was coming to me like I was on come distant planet. After a little while, this history teacher came clean and revealed that it was all a trick. The principal was, of course, in cahoots.

After the reveal, we talked as a class about the folly of believing your grades are everything, and how that even when the worst scenario we’d envisioned comes to pass, life did not end. We also discussed the pros and cons of a society utterly dependent on computers. My teacher had pulled the wool over our eyes, but after the prank was revealed, it felt like the scales fell from our eyes. What a day that was.


American High School Senior Traditions - SNS Eigojutsu #Graduation (aired 2018/5/24)

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