The Nishimachi Internationalist, Volume 25, Spring 1999
Nishimachi International School celebrates its 50th Anniversary
Kimi Hotta '78 Nishimachi-Kai President
Hello, fellow alums! I hope life is treating you well wherever you are. You may already have heard in some form or another that NIS is hard at work on its 50th anniversary coming up next academic year. I'd like to brief you on what is planned. The Logo Contest: NIS is holding a contest open to everybody with any current or prior connection with the school. Those of you interested are asked to submit a logo design commemorating the 50th anniversary of the school. The winning design will appear on everything, including stationery, clothes, letterheads, you name it. Entries are due at the Development Office by April 9, 1999, so please stoke your artistic fires! Please refer to the NIS homepage and page 20 of this issue.
50th Anniversary Kick-Off: This event is scheduled for September 24. It will be held at the school and will include (we hope) speeches, slide shows, presentations by the current student body, and so on. If you're in town at the time, please stop by! Founder's Day 2000 and Alumni Weekend: This is important for everyone, but especially for us, if I may say so. This celebration will begin in the evening of February 10, 2000, with an alumni welcome reception at Nishimachi. On February 11, festivities in honor of Tané Matsukata will be held in the morning followed by the alumni participating in school and class activities. Get those old brain cells working and don't forget your reading glasses! In the evening, we are planning a grand 50th anniversary reunion function for all Nishimachi-Kai members.
On the same weekend, Tomo no Kai, the parents' group, will be organizing a ball (tentatively set for the 12th) for NIS friends and alums.
There are other ideas being tossed around, including a day trip to Kazuno, skiing, and so on. We will notify you of the details as the plans become more concrete.
We really do hope that as many of you as possible can attend one or all of these functions, especially Alumni Weekend!
Thanks and take care.
The Nishimachi Internationalist Volume 26 Spring 2000
After the Dust Settles
The verdict is unanimous. Founder's Day weekend, February 10 - 12, was the resounding success everyone hoped (and planned) for — from the welcome cocktail on Thursday to Saturday night's formal ball. Approximately one hundred alumni, parents of alumni, former staff, and friends returned to the school for a reunion weekend in honor of the school's fiftieth birthday. For some the trip was no more than a routine commute from Yokohama or Roppongi. For others it involved organizing across-the-globe-travel from Canada, England, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Hong Kong, or the U.S. To each and every one of those dedicated souls Nishimachi expresses its deepest gratitude.
The three-day program offered something for — and from —everyone. Nowhere was the ex-change between old and new, past and present, more apparent than at the all-school assembly Friday afternoon, when an enthusiastic audience of over 600 filed into the gym to pay tribute to Founder Tané Matsukata. The school was pleased to welcome back Yukiko Ano Kato, the school's first graduate, who flew in from California, where she has been an elementary teacher for the past thirty years. In her keynote address, Mrs. Kato distilled the essence of her experience here almost fifty years ago, echoing the words of the school song, "peace begins with me." She said she learned the importance of courtesy, consideration, communication, and being responsible for oneself from Tané Matsukata, lessons she tries to instill in her own students. We are indeed fortunate Mrs. Kato was able to be with us.
As musical counterpoint, NIS alumna, virtuoso harpist Naoko Yoshino, played a toccata by J.-B. Loeillet and a work by A. Zabel appropriately titled "La Source." Interspersed throughout the hour-long program, fourth graders delivered "sound-byte" highlights of events on the world stage over the past five decades. Current staff made an impressive debut as the "Dream Team" with their signature medley created especially for the occasion.
To make the most of their guests, students were given opportunities to chat informally about early life at the school with Mari Takahashi Parker, Fumiko Nishino Friedewald, and Eva Juhlin-Dannfelt; about the neighborhood with Mary Jane Alexander, Cindy and Robert Petti, Hiroshi Murata, Katarina Hassler, and Anna Juhlin-Dannfelt; about Kazuno and Kurohone with Jim Hawkins and Debbie Krisher; and about what happens after NIS with Judith Almstadt-Guyer, Osamu Francis, and Elon Simon. Naoko Yoshino spent time in the music room fielding questions about her career from curious students.
Later in the afternoon, guests visited the classrooms to view special group projects the children at each grade level had created: in kindergarten, multilingual greetings from "global children"; in first grade, a display of letters from grandparents; in second grade, a colossal chart illustrating the growth of the student body over five decades; in third grade, scale models of the school grounds; in fifth grade, a mock-up of the quilt the children will stitch later this year; in sixth grade, a re-creation of the Kazuno experience; and in the junior high homerooms, a decade-by-decade rundown of headline makers (in patchwork format).
In addition to "work," the schedule provided ample opportunities for relaxation. Friday evening everyone gathered at the Hong Kong Garden Restaurant in Nishi Azabu for a celebratory dinner complete with speeches, photographs, and general nostalgia. It was a time for rekindling old ties long dormant.
On Saturday night current parents, alumni, former staff, and friends donned evening attire and headed to the Shinjuku Hilton for an anniversary ball sponsored by Tomo no Kai. The program included a joint performance by the school choruses; speeches on the theme of past (Junko Kawai, former NIS teacher), present (Thomas Walters, Deputy Headmaster), and future (Cathy Long, NIS Board Chairperson); a formal toast; dinner; and dancing. In keeping with its established practice of spring fund-raising, Tomo no Kai con-ducted a short but spirited auction. First on the block was this year's commemorative quilt, which, thanks to the generosity of a group of bidders, will remain at the school in honor of its special year.
Mrs. Yukiko Ano Kato, the first graduate of Nishimachi International School, addresses the all-school assembly.
Those who came back say they will cherish these memories for a long time to come. Who could ask for more?
Harpist Naoko Yoshino '82 (center) chats with junior high students in the music room after her performance at the all-school assembly.