Elementary school graduation: 1 graduate, 300 guests


TAIPEI, Taiwan — An aboriginal pupil at the coastal Hoping Elementary School in Taitung County, southeastern Taiwan, had a very unique graduation ceremony Friday in that not only was he the only graduate, but the event turned into a tourist attraction with over 300 unexpected guests attending his graduation party.

The mini-school threw a party for Chen Ting-wei (���x��) and the festive atmosphere with aboriginal games, a photo exhibition featuring the coastal township and stands selling food and handicrafts attracted many tourists curious about the school.

With only 20 pupils, the Hoping Elementary School is one of the smallest schools for primary education in Taiwan. At the moment, 80 percent of the pupils come from a nearby village of the Amis tribe.

Ting-wei is the fifth of the six children of the Chen family to have graduated from the school. His younger brother is currently in the fifth grade.

Principal Shih Hsiu-ying told the visitors that when Ting-wei started attending the school, he had three classmates. He became the sole pupil in the third grade, and remained so for three years until the school decided to have him join younger children in a mixed class in his sixth year, so that he could have company while studying. As the only graduate, Ting-wei said he did not mind at all �X after all, he bagged all the prizes and presents for graduates. Besides, he also enjoyed the popularity when tourists asked him to have their photos taken with him. Good at math and interested particularly in machines, Ting-wei said that his graduation wish is that maybe one day he can have a backhoe similar to the one that his father operates.