Twas the week before break and somehow five days felt like ten. The amazing thing is that every member of the faculty felt the same way. There was the pressure to wrap things up in time for the break despite losing two days the week before to the weather. We had an assortment of extra obligations atop our normal teaching plus whatever we personally had to do at home. As a result, we lurched towards the final bell on Friday and began our 12 day break.Without really looking at the calendar carefully back in August, I signed up to chaperone a wrestling match this week. Now, all I had to do was sell tickets and watch the money so it wasn’t onerous, just a few more hours of work. It turns out I chose wisely because this was the match where Guy Pritzker, Owings Mills’ coach for the last 30 years (and 40 years total in Baltimore County) was retiring and being honored. Hearing from former students extol his virtues and faith in them reminded me all over again why I do this. I hope when I retire people feel I had a positive impact on their lives.With the interim grades out last week, it also meant this week we had parent/teacher conferences. Given everyone’s crazy schedules before the holidays, I wound up meeting with parents Tuesday and Wednesday before the scheduled Thursday event. And then when one couldn’t make it in, I wound up chatting with the parent by phone on Friday before I could leave.With the HAS (High School Assessment) coming up in January, we all had to attend a workshop reviewing the rules so that meant an early morning session adding to the hours.The fun part came with Secret Eagles. We all drew names and I wound up with one of the science teachers I had grown friendly with and her chair tipped me off on things to get her. As a result, from Monday through Friday last week, a variety of students (including some I don’t teach) dropped by her room to leave her things. There were the usual assortment of candies but also Santa Bubbles, a Santa rubber duck, a small gift box, Santa tissues and finally socks from her alma mater. It went over very well, she assured me, when I revealed myself. In turn, the school nurse didn’t know me at all and was guided by my department chair so I received Batman and Catwoman ducks, chocolates, Dunkin’ Donuts and B&N gift cards. Most came with witty rhymes so I was most pleased.The kids got more and more wound up as the week progressed. We’ve been watching Edward Scissorhands as part of our film study unit and when they heard the final portion wouldn’t be shown until January, there was great disappointment. I decided to alter the schedule and surprise them Friday with the final section which over quite well – leaving my two morning classes rapt and somewhat weepy. My afternoon classes were tougher to rein in but at least enjoyed it.My 11th graders spent the entire week in the library researching and outlining a major paper on the Founding Fathers. Since two are on the girls’ basketball team, I supported them by buying, what I thought were cookies. Instead, I received tubs of cookie dough but promised I would treat them to cookies on the final day. This then obligated me to come home and bake two of the evenings which only added to the schedule. At least they tasted great and were appreciated.By Friday at 3:15, I had wrapped things up and headed for home with some stuff to grade and lessons to plan but it’s not too onerous. I am now home and have gone from utterly exhausted to merely tired, slowed by a cold, but enjoying being at my desk, Christmas carols in the background, and catching up on most everything that I couldn’t touch for a week.