As the doors closed with a strenuous drift behind me, the assembly commenced. The then-principal welcomed the new students solemnly and recited the virtues of education seeped in Miraist values, a formal routine that had been mildly amusing the first time and excruciating to sit through for someone in their final year.
But in the part of her speech where she would have let us go, she paused instead. There were droplets of tears forming at the edge of her eyes. Her voice was strained as she continued.
"My beloved students and faculty, it has been my greatest honor to humbly serve all of you as the principal of Sen Valley Miraian Academy for more than twenty years. By Mirai's grace, and believe me that it came only after months of soul searching guided by Her, I see it fit to retire from my position for a more suitable pace of life for someone my age. Please remember that I will always cherish this academy and love and support each and every one of you. I trust all of you to continue our commitment to educational excellence and boundless devotion to Mirai. And now please welcome our new principal for her inaugural speech, High Idol Deeta Fujioka."
Deeta Fujioka. A name that would truly signify the first page of my turbulent final year.
A spattering of confused applause grew into a polite clamor accompanying the woman rising to the podium. With her fair immaculate skin and elegant copper hair, she was the epitome of classical beauty.
I knew only vaguely of her reputation: a strict musical instructor hailing from the Ganymede Academy, spoken in comparison to how good we had it in Sen Valley by exasperated seniors. She had made department head there, but evidently, she had greater ambitions in mind once she had made High Idol.
One thing that struck me immediately was how adroit she was; both her diction and intonation were perfectly picked and meticulously trimmed, a true master of the words honed by years practice and a true understanding of what it takes to mature from a perky Performing Idol to a graceful High Idol.
She was gracious in accepting the baton from her predecessor. She was confident, yet humble. She was, in a word, terrifying.
The text to her assembly has since been written down and dissected by greater writers than me and therefore I would not include the entirety of it. I'll include one single passage that foreshadows her what she would bring to the school and her future career path.
"Minna-san! This academy is founded on strong, timeless Miraian principles, built upon by generations of those scholars, idols and accompanists both, before us. It follows that it is our duty, our Ikigai, to preserve their collective wisdom and virtues not only to honor their legacy but also build our own, even beyond the boundaries of religious institutions," she said smoothly with a warm smile.
"Even beyond the boundaries of religious institutions."
At the time I did not heed much attention to her address.
My mind was more busy speculating whether this woman would make my leave easier, or harder. How I should approach her and whether I should placate her by congratulating her new post if and when I confront her with my thoughts of honorable resignation from the Idol program.
Eventually the assembly ended and Deeta bid us a good day of fruitful learning, I left in a hurry, hoping to avoid the departing crowd. But I needed not worry; the Accompanist that guarded the door stopped me on my tracks.
"Miss Wendy Wakabayashi? Please report to the principal office right away."
He offered to accompany me there as well.