Graduates nationwide are bidding farewell to their alma maters during the graduation season and while many are looking to the future, some are seeking creative ways to encapsulate school memories.
Taipei Jingmei Girls’ High School students are recognizable by their bright yellow shirts and black pleated skirts.
Inspired by artist Florentijn Hofman’s iconic 16.5m tall inflatable yellow Rubber Duck, the school this year chose palm-sized yellow plastic ducks as graduation gifts.
The rubber ducks have proven popular with graduates and many had their photographs taken with them in their favorite parts of the school, with some saying that the gift symbolized their metamorphosis “from ugly ducklings into swans.”
At Taipei Chenggong High School, students chose to remember their high-school days by designing a series of commemorative badges.
Meanwhile, graduates at Taipei Municipal Yu Cheng Senior High School were each given two cushions to remember their high-school years, one printed with pictures of the male students’ green-collared school sportswear and another with pictures of the female students’ orange-collared uniform.
“Most students prefer the school’s sportswear to the official uniform because it is made with a softer fabric, but once they graduate, they often miss the uniform,” the school’s Academic Affairs Office director Chang Kuang-yuan (張洸源) said.
In an effort to incorporate charity into their big day, graduates at Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School designed an array of T-shirts and donated the profit — which amounted to about NT$30,000 (US$1,000) — to World Vision Taiwan.
Another highlight of Jianguo’s graduation ceremony was a figurine of the school’s Teacher-Parent Association chairman, Wang Ming-hsien (汪明賢), who handed out the figurine to graduates to remember him by and to celebrate his scheduled retirement this year.
However, three young entrepreneurs — Cheng Yi-shan (鄭宜珊), Cheng Yi-hsiang (鄭宜湘) and Cheng Hsiao-chun (鄭小群) — have not only sought to capture their own high-school memories, but also helped others to hold on to theirs by turning their high-school uniforms into pillows.
The students are the proprietors of a fledging studio — named Pillow Hug (制服抱抱) — which produces pillows made from the uniforms of Jianguo High School and Taipei First Girls’ High School and offers customized services to customers who order more than 50 pieces.
Spurred on by a whiteboard they found on the streets, the three started the business three years after they graduated from college.
Cheng Yi-shan said she had always kept her high-school uniform after she graduated from Taipei Municipal Yongchun Senior High School, although she never had a chance to wear it.
“Then one day, it suddenly occurred to me that I could make a pillow from my old uniform,” Cheng Yi-shan said, as she took out her “Yongchun pillow” that was covered with the signatures of her high-school classmates and drawings by her then-boyfriend.
“Whenever I’m upset, I hold the uniform pillow in my arms, cry on it or punch it to vent my frustration. It still smells like me in high school,” Cheng Yi-shan said.
A graduate from Shih Chien University’s fashion design department, Cheng Yi-hsiang, was chosen as the face of Pillow Hug because of her experience starring in a number of television commercials and short films.
Holding the pillow she made from her uniforms in Fu Hsin Trade and Arts School, Cheng Yi-hsiang said that the pillow — covered in pencil marks — encapsulated her high-school memories.
Cheng Hsiao-chun said that whenever she felt disheartened or insecure, she would hold the pillow and reminisce about her high-school days.
“I hope these pillows can give you the strength to believe [in life]. If you are frustrated, just give yourself a hug and all the difficulties may not seem so hard anymore,” Cheng Hsiao-chun said.