Classes moved into finals preparation on Monday; the anxiety level of freshmen and upper class men could be palpably felt in the hallways. Teachers also began to exude a vibe of increased focus as tests were written and rewritten. The only folk immune from the end of the year jitters were the sophomore boys, go figure; but even they began to carry extra books, type notes into outlines on laptops, and talk to themselves in study hall.
Wednesday, the finals began with the 'short' periods being combined into one longer test period. I started with all of my freshman in a combined test period...one hour to complete five essay questions. This was their first 'major' test for finals week and I thought it might be best to teach them a little bit about pacing during their time with me. As always, I included a few cartoons (a Calvin & Hobbes Christmas mix) to create natural breaks between every two essay questions. About every fifteen minutes, I would remind the boys of the time remaining and ask them to rest their brains for a minute and enjoy a cartoon. Once, I skipped the cartoon recommendation and asked them to pray for one minute instead. The point? Relaxing or pausing to de-stress every so often would help them work on the test in the long run...I hope they consider that as they continue their finals week today.
Anticipation also floods the halls this week. We begin a two week Christmas break on Friday afternoon! The 5 day boarders will be going home for an extended visit, and the 7 day boarders (many of them students from distant states or countries) will be going home for the first time since school started! I asked one of our students from Korea what his first plans were going to be and he broke into a broad grin, "Hug my mom and eat everything she cooked for me!" The same question posed to one of our boys from way out of state was answered a little differently, "My sisters and I are going to have a Christmas movie marathon." The anticipation of getting to go home and be with family seems to be the focus of the excitement...and I'm excited for them as well.
Me? I'm excited to be going home to the Monastery for two-weeks too! The first week will be the end of Advent and the air of silent preparation will still be settled over the halls of our monastic home. While I could hardly stand the quiet at the beginning of my life with the sisters, now I find myself craving the intentional silence that fills our refectory, chapel, and bedroom hallways. I will also be arriving at home just in time to begin the preparations for Christmas: setting up the trees in the carcent for our elderly, decorating cookies in the bakery, and replacing our advent purple with Chrsitmas white and gold in the chapel. I won't be alone mind you, there are always a few of us from the schools that are excited and willing to volunteer when we come home for the holidays. It will be good to be home.