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A note from Mr Bray - 20 September 2019

Focus verse: ‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.’ 1 Peter 4: 10 (NIV)

Next week is the final week of school for our Year 12 HSC students. I cannot remember an edition of NCS Bytes where I have not observed that the past two weeks have been packed full of amazing highlights and this last fortnight has certainly been no exception! It will be my intention to refer to just some of the many events that have taken place. I would encourage you to read the numerous other articles provided here that cover many other special activities that have occurred in a wide variety of areas.

The evening of Monday, 9 September saw two very significant events occurring that involved our HSC students. The first was the annual HSC Music Showcase that drew a large crowd of appreciative family and friends. As the name suggests, this event involved our HSC Music students presenting their individual musical performances. However, the evening began with an impressive display of Industrial Technology (Wood) and Visual Art pieces located in the MPC Gallery. These have also been produced by our HSC students for assessment by external NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) markers. The Music Showcase saw numerous musical styles being demonstrated, including classical, rock, pop and even bagpipes. Our students did a wonderful job as they continued to prepare their pieces in readiness for the examiners who would be visiting in the following week.

I had the privilege of attending the second function that was held off-site at the Bomaderry Bowling Club. This event was the Shoalhaven Year 12 Aboriginal Graduation Celebration Dinner. I was accompanied by Mrs Alison Stewart who is our NCS Aboriginal Education Coordinator. It was very fitting that Mrs Stewart was in attendance because we were there to support NCS Year 12 student, Kyra H. Kyra was one of many students from secondary schools throughout the Shoalhaven area who are graduating from Year 12 this year. It was a wonderful occasion that recognised the significant achievements of our local Aboriginal Year 12 students.

From time to time, I aim to remind our NCS ‘family’ that we have a team of dedicated School Board members who largely work ‘behind the scenes’ to ensure that our School is well governed. On Tuesday, 10 September, our Board members met together to hold their monthly meeting. We were privileged to have Mark Spencer as our special guest at this meeting. Mark is a member of the Christian Schools Australia (CSA) National Executive and he has the impressive title of ‘Executive Officer Policy, Governance and Staff Relations’. Mark provided our Board members with a very helpful update on a range of topics of direct relevance to the operation of Christian schools. One of the major topics that he explored was that of religious freedoms for faith-based schools. This is one of the most important issues that Christian schools in Australia are currently addressing.

For the members of our NCS Defence Force families, this week concluded with a Games Afternoon, held in the Multi-Purpose Centre. Once again, Mrs Adrienne Varga, who is our Defence School Mentor, organised this very enjoyable event. I was pleased to receive an invitation to attend and I greatly enjoyed participating in some of the many games and activities on offer. Mrs Varga also organised a delicious afternoon tea. She is to be commended for the excellent support that she provides to all of our NCS Defence families who can often have one family member being absent for considerable periods of time due to deployment commitments.

We were again reminded that the HSC year is rapidly drawing to a conclusion when we were visited by a team of three NESA External Music Markers on Monday of this past week. They had come to NCS to assess individual performances being presented by our eleven HSC Music students. Mr West, our HSC Music Teacher, stated that the examiners were very friendly and this helped to set our students at ease. All members of the class have been working tirelessly on perfecting their pieces since the beginning of Term 2. At the end of the day, everyone was very relieved that this important component of their course had now been completed.

Whilst we started our Monday with a visit from the HSC Markers, we concluded this day with an opportunity for all parents and carers with children in Years 7-10 to attend a Parent/Carer/Staff interviews evening. This event was held in the Church Hall and I was very pleased with the numbers of parents and carers (and also some students) who were present to engage in helpful discussions, directly related to the current progress of our Years 7-10 students in their various subject areas. As I looked around the hall, I could see that productive conversations were being held. A number of parents and carers that I spoke with indicated that they had found these discussions to be most helpful. Such events are a clear indication that the partnership at NCS between home and school is a very healthy one.

Last Thursday, a very special afternoon tea was held in the Church Hall. This event was organised to fondly farewell Mrs Keene, who is retiring after nearly thirty years of faithful service to our school in her role as our Library Assistant. (Prior to this, on Monday I had accompanied Mrs Keene as we visited both the Primary and Secondary Assemblies. At these events her services to our school were also recognised by our grateful students who presented her with gifts and prayed for her as she prepared to leave NCS.) Current staff and other invited guests, including Mr Windsor, a past Principal and former NCS staff members, many of whom had served with Mrs Keene in the Library, were present at this afternoon tea. Mrs Keene was presented with a number of gifts as a token of our gratitude for her faithful service over many years. A number of speakers particularly emphasised that Mrs Keene always cheerfully carried out her duties and did so with a humble ‘servant-heart’ attitude. She will be greatly missed by staff and students alike. (I would also wish to congratulate Mrs Vanessa Smith on her recent appointment to the role of Library Assistant. Vanessa is already well-known to many at NCS as she is a parent of the school and currently operates the school uniform shop.)

Friday morning saw the holding of a Secondary Assembly. The program for this assembly contained many highlights. As always, our talented musical students led us in the singing of a number of songs. Mr Petts presented all members of our NCS Ration Challenge Team who were present at the assembly with individual certificates of participation. He also presented the school with a framed certificate, acknowledging the excellent performance of our entire team that saw us raising almost $11,000 for this very worthy appeal to provide practical support for Syrian refugees. Mrs Meek also interviewed Year 10 student, Micah P, who will join with 19 other students from schools throughout New South Wales as they participate in the Premier’s Memorial Scholarship Tour of the WW1 battlefields located in Europe. (You can read more about this tour elsewhere in this edition of NCS Bytes.)

This busy fortnight concluded on Friday with the holding of our first ever ‘Medieval Faire’ at NCS. All the lords and ladies of Year 8 were in attendance, dressing up in medieval costumes and enjoying the ‘delicacies’ of 15th Century European food at the feast. It was my great pleasure to join in the celebrations at the feast as I came dressed as a lowly monk! Other activities related to this theme included cross-curricular connections in Science and Technology that culminated in the building of working trebuchets. Abbot Stewart (alias Mrs Stewart) worked with students in illumination and calligraphy activities. Year 8’s created their own colourful heraldry and we also had a visit from Medievalist, James Adams, who demonstrated the use of weaponry and armour from this historical period.

I referred earlier to last Friday’s Secondary Assembly but I would now wish to focus on the challenging message that was presented at this assembly by our male School Captain, Lachlan W. On many occasions, especially throughout this year, Lachy has demonstrated his leadership skills as a lunchtime Bible Study leader, through presenting Secondary Assembly devotions, leading assemblies and a lunchtime worship group and in many other ways. The focus of Lachy’s message related to the wise use of our gifts and the major passage that he centred on was Luke 19: 11-27 (parable of the King’s Ten Servants). Lachy spoke with power and conviction and presented a message of great relevance to all of us. He ranged across many areas, including the wise stewardship of our resources, with a special focus on our attitude to money. Lachy’s conclusion was that God gives gifts to us with a clear purpose in mind. That purpose is to serve others and to glorify His kingdom. God intentionally gives different gifts to different people in accordance with His will and, for this reason, we should be thankful for the gifts that we receive and not be envious of the gifts given to others. These are wise words indeed! Thank you, Lachy, for sharing this important message with us.

As this will be our final edition of NCS Bytes for Term 3, I would wish to take this opportunity on behalf of the Board and School Leadership to wish students, staff and any parents/carers who will also have some time away from work, a restful holiday break. May you travel safely and enjoy rich times together with family and friends. I would also encourage you to continue to pray for our HSC students as they prepare to embark on their study and revision break with the first external HSC Examination due to commence on Thursday, 17 October.

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