Broadcast Committee members
Store Committee members selling stationery
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, student committee activities are undertaken, and the lively voices of children can be heard around school from early in the morning.
At 8:00 a.m., Broadcast Committee members make announcements over the public-address system, Library Committee members unlock the library and organize books, Health Committee members put out new bars of soap in the bathroom and straighten up the bathroom slippers, and members of the Garden Committee water all the flowers in the front yard of the school. Everybody runs around doing something.
The school store opens for just 10 minutes from 8:00 to 8:10, offering a large selection of notebooks, pencils, and other stationery. "Strawberry-scented stick glue is popular now. All the girls have one," says Kasumi, a sixth grader on the Store Committee.
Once the committee work is done, students in all grades change into their gym clothes and gather in the playground. Today is the day of their weekly early-morning marathon.
The students run among rice fields.
After everybody has arrived, the sixth graders stand up front and start doing warm-up exercises. They then take their places at the starting line and wait for the signal to start. The teacher has a stopwatch to record each of their times.
The course circles halfway around the playground and continues outside the school on raised footpaths between the terraced rice fields. Golden rice plants that have just come into ear sway in the breeze, and the morning air is sweet. The children run as fast as they can, with fifth and sixth graders in the lead.
Today the top runner is Senri, a sixth grader, who covers the 1.3-kilometer course in five minutes and nine seconds. "My record is four minutes and forty-five seconds. I have a dog, and I always run with it when I take it for a walk. I love running," says Senri, who is not at all tired.