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A word from Mr Bray - 20 October 2017

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)

For many years I had the pleasure of being a Secondary English teacher. I taught originally in Victorian Government schools and then transferred to teach in Christian schools. I have always been fascinated by the origin of words and how the original meaning of words can be adapted to suit different cultures and contexts. As I have attended an amazing variety of activities at NCS during this second week of term, one such word has been brought to my attention.

This word is ‘smorgasboard’ and it derives from the Swedish language and was originally spelt ‘smorgasbord’. Its literal meaning refers to a meal that was served buffet-style with multiple hot and cold dishes of various foods on the table. Diners were able to sample foods of their choosing. However, when we use the word ‘smorgasboard’ today, we are essentially referring to any situation where people are invited to make selections from amongst a wide range of pleasant items. This is the situation that I have experienced this week at NCS as I have been able to sample a wide range of amazing activities involving members of our school community. I would wish to share just a few of these events with you in this BYTES article and also to draw your attention to a special event that will be celebrated next week.

On Monday morning I had the great pleasure of accompanying a group of our secondary musicians as we travelled to the Bomaderry Bowling Club where our school had been invited by the local Probus organisation to provide a number of musical items for the entertainment of their members. Our students did a wonderful job of using their musical gifts and talents to enthrall the audience. The short program contained an amazing variety of performance styles, including violin and piano solos and vocal performances accompanied by a diversity of instruments ranging from ukuleles to flutes.

Later on Monday I was present at the Kindergarten Parent Information Evening which saw all parents of our 2018 Kindergarten classes coming together for the first time as a whole group to receive valuable information from our experienced Kindergarten and Infants staff. This was a relaxed gathering where new parents were provided with ample opportunities to meet each other and, for many, to contemplate the approaching reality of sending their eldest child to ‘Big School’ for the very first time. It was encouraging to listen to their animated conversations about the exciting educational ‘adventure’ that they were preparing to embark on at NCS next year. This meeting is just the first step in a well organised Kindergarten transition program that will continue throughout this year and into the first week of the 2018 school year.

The ‘smorgasboard’ continued on Tuesday evening when I joined with many parents and extended family members as we gathered together to enjoy the Stage 5 ‘Celebrate Creativity Showcase’. Earlier in the year, my wife and I had attended the Stage 6 version of this event and, once again, I departed at the conclusion of this evening marveling at the depth of talent and creativity that our Years 9 and 10 students were able to demonstrate.

The evening commenced with a viewing of an array of amazing products created by students in their wood technology and visual arts classes. Following this, we all relocated to the music room where we were treated to a polished program of dramatic and musical performances. The incredible variety of styles and genres and the polished professionalism with which our students delivered their items was greatly appreciated by the enthusiastic audience. What is more, it was clear that our students understood the vital importance of working enthusiastically together as a team to produce such excellent performances. Congratulations to the many staff members who have worked tirelessly with our students to enable such quality outcomes to occur.

To add to the variety, I spent lunchtime on Wednesday with a group of secondary students who had gathered to hear Michael Agnew, an NCS alumni member who graduated from Year 12 in 2011, present on the important topic of STEM. This acronym stands for ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics’.

Many of the major career areas available to our students today, and into the future, are to be found within the STEM area. Michael was certainly an enthusiastic communicator and he also outlined the challenging process of how you take an idea and work through the various stages to develop a product that people will wish to buy. In this case the ‘product’ was an original card game called ‘Reign’. Read more about Michael's talk here.

Continuing the lunchtime meeting process, I was delighted to have a visit on Thursday from 4 NCS students who will be participating in the 3 day South Coast Youth Leadership Forum, commencing this Friday. Students will stay at the Youthworks' Waterslea Conference Centre. Our school will be sending a team of 5 students from Years 9 & 10 who will join with many other young leaders from secondary schools throughout the South Coast region. Students attending from NCS are Olivia Condon, Aaron Tasker and Elizabeth Yusuf (Year 9) and Kyrah Hennessy and Zoe Plant (Year 10). We are confident that they will have the opportunity to learn many valuable new leadership skills and we look forward to their report in a future edition of BYTES.

I have just returned from attending Friday morning’s Years 1-10 assembly. The items presented during this assembly again reinforced the ‘smorgasboard’ definition that I mentioned earlier in this article. We were, indeed, presented with a range of ‘pleasant and wholesome’ material that was both uplifting and encouraging. We were led in community singing by our talented student singers and band members. Many students who had performed creditably in English and Mathematics competitions were presented with their certificates and a number of students also received State Athletics certificates. Mr Petts, our secondary chaplain, then provided a helpful summary of our 2017 NCS theme of ‘Who is this King?’ He then explored the history of the Reformation, which began in 1517, where we were reminded that we cannot buy our way to Heaven but are saved by ‘grace alone’. Fittingly, we concluded the assembly with the community singing of ‘Grace Alone’ written by Dustin Kensrue.

Our HSC students are now well into their external examination program which commenced with all students sitting for one of the English papers on Monday. I was greatly encouraged to have the opportunity of praying with our students before they entered the examination room on Tuesday morning. Various subject teachers will continue to pray regularly with our students throughout the remainder of the HSC examination program. The final examination involving our NCS students will occur on 6 November. Your ongoing prayers for our students will be greatly appreciated.

This significant event is traditionally celebrated in many Australian schools on the final Friday in October. At NCS, we plan to hold a celebratory afternoon tea next Tuesday when the majority of staff, full and part-time, are in attendance. I have ordered a specially decorated cake to mark this occasion and Paul Dickinson, our Board Chair, will also be in attendance to address staff. At NCS we are blessed with a dedicated team of staff, both teaching and non-teaching. I would encourage you to follow the link to find out more about the history and purpose of this event and also to learn of ways in which you and/or your children might choose to express your gratitude for the wonderful job that our teachers do in providing a Christ-centred education for your sons and daughters.

This week’s focus verse comes from the gospel of John. Here Jesus is speaking to a crowd that had gathered around, consisting mainly of Jews and some members of the Pharisees. Jesus was using the analogy of sheep and shepherds, contrasting the difference between himself as the ‘good shepherd’ and those whose motives were selfish and impure. (You might like to read the full account in John 10: 1-18 to learn more about the ways in which Jesus truly is the ‘good shepherd’ who ‘lays down his life for his sheep’.)

However, it was the second section of John 10:10 that particularly caught my attention in the light of the events of this week at NCS. Jesus states ‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.’ I trust that it is this type of ‘full life’ that Jesus refers to that our school desires to bring to the attention of our students through the privilege that we have to teach all topics from a Christian worldview perspective. What I witnessed throughout the week, as I observed our students participating in a wide range of activities, were groups of students who were indeed living life to the ‘full’! They were using their gifts and talents in a joyful and wholesome manner to produce some amazing outcomes.

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