Students of the Kyoto Miyama High School correspondence course in the news

KYOTO–A student council was formed Monday by members of a Kyoto Miyama High School correspondence course, where many of the students have refused to go to school and have isolated themselves from society.

Students of the correspondence course rarely have a chance to meet each other, as the course mainly offers lessons on the Internet. Those who have decided to become more engaged in school activities created the student council after about a month of preparation.

Seven students were elected as the council’s executives through an online vote. They say they hope to host a cultural festival in the future.

The correspondence course was started by the Kyoto-based private school in 2003. Currently, 215 students, from teenagers to those in their 50s, are enrolled in the course. About 70 percent of the students have a history of isolating themselves from school or society.

The students take interactive or recorded lessons using their home computers or other devices, and only about three lessons a year are actually held as conventional classes.

In November, some students who met through the school’s Internet bulletin board proposed to host an event where the course’s students could gather. The students then decided to create a student body as a step toward doing activities on their own.

Seven second- and third-year students announced their candidacy to be executives of the student council. On Friday, they recorded footage of their speeches, promising to send out messages about the school or promote the graduation ceremony, and distributed the footage on the Internet. The seven were elected Monday after students cast their vote by e-mail.

The students received documents recognizing them as council executives from Minoru Ono, the school’s principal.

Norihisa Kono, who became the council’s president, joined the course in February. He said he did not fit in at a high school he used to attend.

“Students [of the correspondence course] have various experiences, and because of such experiences, they’re compassionate and kind. I love this school, and I’ll try to come up with ideas to do something for the school,” Kono said.

Yasuhiro Isoda, a teacher who helped the students set up the council, said, “I hope the creation of the student body will lead other students to expand their activities.”

(Dec. 23, 2008)

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