KAWAMATA, Fukushima Prefecture—It may have come nine months late, but for some children from Iitate in Fukushima Prefecture, a graduation ceremony made this Christmas a little more special.
On Dec. 25, a joint graduation ceremony involving children from three elementary schools and two kindergartens in Iitate was held at a community center in neighboring Kawamata. The event was attended by 105 students and their parents.
About 6,000 residents of Iitate, located inside the widened evacuation zone of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, have moved to other areas since April.
Elementary and junior high schools from Iitate reopened classes by borrowing space from schools in Kawamata in late April.
While junior high schools had held graduation ceremonies before the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, ceremonies for elementary schools and kindergartens had been suspended.
Principals and other teachers who have been transferred to other schools also attended the Dec. 25 ceremony and handed out graduation certificates to the pupils.
Chisato Sato, who attended Iitate's Kusano Elementary School, came from Tochigi Prefecture, where she now lives, to take part in the ceremony.
"After the (March 11) earthquake, school was suspended and we were forced to move to a place where I didn’t know anybody," Sato, 13, recalled. "I feel lonely. I want to return home to Iitate, but I am afraid it will be difficult."
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