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The significance of Winter Soltice

Focus Verse: Colossians 3: 2 (NIV) ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’

I am not sure if you are like me and have certain times in the year that have special significance for you? These usually include birthdays and other anniversaries, important events such as Easter and Christmas and perhaps even the Grand Final date for your favourite code of football. One day that always holds special symbolic significance for me occurred during this past fortnight. I wonder if you already know what I am referring to? Yes, it occurred on 21 June and is known as the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year. I always remind myself that this is a sign that our journey towards warm days and more daylight is well underway. We better watch out as Christmas is almost here!

Whilst I am being somewhat flippant here, and realise that each day is given to us by God and has special significance, it is a reminder that this year is rapidly passing us by. It is a sobering thought to contemplate that next week is the final one of Term 2 and that our students will then be departing school for a three week break. I trust that they will be able to look back on this first half year with some sense of satisfaction in relation to the new things that they have learned and the achievements that they have made. Our staff have been working very hard to complete student reports that will hopefully highlight many of these achievements and possibly also point out areas where further improvements can still be made. However, I will emphasise again that I do see signs of the year moving rapidly when I note that many parents, carers and students would have attended the Stage 5 Subject Selection Evening held on 27 June. Our Senior (HSC) Subject Selection Evening is also scheduled for next Monday. Each of these events is designed to commence planning for the next academic year.

Once again this past fortnight at NCS has seen our students productively engaged in an amazing variety of stimulating activities. As I glance at the school calendar, I see an incredible range of educational activities that have occurred within the classroom but that have also taken our students to distant locations. I am writing this article on Wednesday evening and at this very moment we have some 19 students from Years 9 & 10 who are participating in the PASS (Physical Activity and Sports Studies) Snow Camp at Smiggins Hole. Another six senior students travelled to Cedars Christian College in Wollongong to join with many other regional student leaders as they participated in the Student Global Leadership Summit on 18 June.

Whilst many of these activities saw our students travelling to destinations outside of our school,

this past fortnight has also provided us with rich opportunities to welcome some very special guests to NCS. On 26 June a group of very talented student musicians from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, who were participating in their ‘Great Southern Tour', entertained a gathering of NCS Secondary students as they demonstrated their musical skills on a variety of brass instruments. Another student sang a variety of classical songs in five or more languages.

And the musical theme will continue as NCS prepares to welcome some 56 students who are touring with the Australian Girls Choir. We are very much looking forward to this Friday when many of our Primary and Secondary students will join with the girls from the choir in two separate workshop sessions. The highlight of the day will be the concert in the afternoon when all available NCS students will be in the audience as we prepare to be entertained by the wonderful voices that comprise the Australian Girls Choir. NCS students, who were involved in the earlier workshop sessions, will also have the privilege of performing with the choir for some sections of the program. We are hoping that many of our parents and carers, and especially those who have generously hosted some of the choir girls, will be able to join us for this special event.

The three key values that have been identified in the NCS Strategic Management Plan are ‘care, community’ and ‘character’. These are values that we trust all NCS students will strive to display. During this past fortnight, I have had the opportunity to personally witness our students demonstrating these values in very practical ways. The first occasion occurred when I accompanied two students as they volunteered to assist with the Brekky Club at Nowra East Public School. It gave me great delight to observe the caring manner in which these two students served the young children who came to enjoy their breakfast with us. The second occasion was the ‘Caring Box’ Whole-School Assembly when students were encouraged to bring along packaged food items to assist those less fortunate members of our local community. I was absolutely amazed by the sheer volume of goods that our students brought with them to this assembly!

As you would no doubt be aware from reading recent Bytes articles, NCS students have, once again, been very actively involved in all sections of the local Shoalhaven Eisteddfod program. Our students from Primary all the way through to HSC have participated enthusiastically in all sections of the Eisteddfod. This includes drama, individual and band musical performances and individual voice and choir presentations. NCS has a long history of keen participation in the Eisteddfod. In recognition of this, I was invited last Saturday to attend the ‘Stars of the Eisteddfod’ Concert held at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre. Three separate NCS items had been chosen to appear as part of this very talented line-up. After our Secondary Drama group had completed their performance, I was asked to come up onto the stage in my role as Principal of NCS to accept a major award on behalf of all the talented students and staff from our school who had performed in so many Eisteddfod events. NCS was presented with the Schools Encouragement Award and a cheque to the value of $1000 to be put towards the Performing Arts program at our school. Yes, we can be rightly proud of the many NCS students who are willing to use their gifts and talents in such a creative manner!

The topic of ‘stars’ is what has led me to choose my focus verse for this fortnight. Once again, I am reminded of the wonderful privilege that staff at NCS have to begin each day with a devotional time. Jane Donald, one of our very special school counsellors, recently presented one of these devotions. She is a keen photographer and she showed us some photos that she was justifiably pleased with. These were beautiful photographs of the stars, that captured their amazing brilliance and incredible number. We were reminded that all we need to do is to stop what we are doing, look up and marvel at the handiwork of our God! Jane challenged us as a Christian school to ‘set our eyes on things above’. She referred to Colossians 3:2 which states ‘Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’ This is the message that we trust our students are hearing every day as they engage in a rich curriculum that is designed from a Christian worldview perspective. (If you have time, I would also encourage you to read the inspiring passage from Isaiah 40: 25-26 that reminds us that it is our God who has created the ‘starry host’.)

Given that this will be the final edition of Bytes for Term 2, I would wish to take the opportunity to thank all of our parents and carers for your many contributions to our school throughout this term. We know that your children are greatly encouraged when you are able to find the time to assist in classrooms or on excursions and camps. Our teachers are also most grateful for this level of support. I trust that our students and teaching staff will soon be able to enjoy a well-earned break and that everyone will return to NCS feeling rested and refreshed in readiness to engage in an exciting Term 3 program.

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