The week before the Year12 English exam is both lovely, and stressful. My typical 'quiet' Wednesday, during which I teach only one Year 11 class and supervise a study hall, became incredibly hectic as clusters of frantic year 12 students appeared at regular intervals, clutching essays and/or collecting them, promising more, or just wanting a chat. Despite this, the hours seem to slow down, perhaps for them as well, because every hour the exam moves closer. The valedictory dinner has passed, school dresses and shirts have been inscribed with black texta, cars have been toilet-papered, classes are over. They become clingy, all of a sudden, when they realise that they won't see your face every day. They suddenly realise (some of them, at least) how many hours that you have dedicated to them. They scribble on cards, tell you that your classroom is where they realised that they loved writing (well, one of them did). They start to realise that this is the beginning of the rest of their life, and you begin to reflect on where they have come from, and how much further they have got to go.