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A note from Mr Bray - 29 November, 2019

'Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.' Psalm 105: 1-2 (NIV)

Are you like me and asking the question, ‘Where has the 2019 school year gone?’ This is my second last NCS Bytes article for this year. When I am due to write my final article in a fortnight’s time, the 2019 school year will already have concluded for your children and they will have enjoyed the first day of their Christmas school holidays. As, I stated before, ‘Where has this year gone?’

Well, that was a rather ‘dramatic’ opening to my article and I would like to reassure all of our parents and carers that all the necessary planning is taking place in order to ensure that we have a very smooth and appropriate conclusion to our 2019 school year. I know that our teaching staff have been very busy ensuring that all assessment and reporting processes are drawing to a conclusion so that student reports can be finalised. Many staff have also been organising the programs for our end-of-year school assemblies that will culminate in our ‘Thanksgiving Evening’ to be held in the MPC on Wednesday, 11 December.

This last fortnight began with all of our HSC students returning to school for the commencement of their Year 11 Foundation Studies Program. I had the great pleasure of presenting a devotion to our students on this first Monday and I was encouraged by the positive attitudes displayed. This day marked the ‘official’ beginning of their 2020 HSC ‘journey’

On Thursday, 21 November, I was pleased to accept the invitation to participate in the ‘Shoalhaven Teacher to Industry Tour’. This annual one day event is designed to encourage school principals, careers advisors and classroom teachers to come along so that we can be better informed about the amazing variety of local businesses and industries where our students can gain meaningful employment. The tour covered such areas as hospitality, advanced manufacturing, construction, apprenticeships/traineeships, Defence careers and more. I concluded my day with a much greater appreciation of the many stimulating career opportunities that are available to students in our local area.

The very next day, I was up earlier than usual to join with our six 2020 Secondary prefects as we travelled to Southern Highlands Christian School in Bowral to participate in the ‘Synergy’ Student Leadership Training Program. This day commenced with a hearty breakfast that was thoroughly enjoyed by student leaders from five regional Christian schools. After breakfast, all students participated in a structured seminar on the challenging skill of ‘public speaking’. During this time, I joined with the other school principals for our own meeting. We then returned to listen to each school leadership team as they presented their vision for a range of innovative programs that they planned to implement in each of their schools next year. We were very impressed with what each team had to share and could clearly see that they were putting their ‘public speaking’ training into immediate practice.

Our NCS Leadership Team comprised Rachel C, Charlotte D, Olivia C, Justin C, Nic H and Joel C. They demonstrated excellent teamwork as they shared their leadership ‘vision’ with the audience. They mentioned many strategic program priorities including ensuring that they would ‘connect’ effectively with younger secondary students. They stressed the importance of working as a team to ensure that they could utilise their full range of gifts and talents. There was also a clear recognition that Christian leadership would require them to follow the example of Jesus in terms of being humble and ‘servant-hearted’. The team referred directly to the Bible passage from Micah 6: 8 that states ‘What does the Lord require of you but to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ This is certainly very wise advice for any leadership team to follow!

On Wednesday 27 November, Mrs Meek (Head of Secondary) and I had the great pleasure of interviewing our six Year 12 prefects for the positions of School Captain for the 2020 school year. We were delighted that all six prefects were willing to apply for these demanding roles. It was an incredible privilege to meet with each of these young leaders as we listened to them outlining why they felt led to consider these roles. What was clearly apparent was the fact that all six were not applying because of the personal prestige associated with the wearing of the school captain badge. Instead, they spoke enthusiastically about how they wished to serve their fellow students and to create a strong sense of ‘community’ spirit.

What an extremely difficult task it has proven to be to choose two captains from this group of six worthy applicants. Both Mrs Meek and I reached the conclusion that school leadership at NCS will certainly continue to rest in capable hands. The male and female school captains will be announced at next Monday’s Secondary Assembly.

Thursday of this past week was certainly a significant day for all current Year 6 students. This was our Year 7 (2020) Orientation Day when our Year 6 students had the opportunity to become Year 7 students for a day. This saw 38 of our current NCS Year 6 students joined by 10 Year 6 students from primary schools in our surrounding area. I had the pleasant task of welcoming all 48 students to secondary school as they gathered together at the commencement of the day. Mrs Meek explained some of the key expectations of being a secondary school student and Mrs Thompson, our 2020 Year 7 Level Advisor, outlined the program for the day. Near the end of the day, I was able to visit these students again. They had been divided into two groups and I caught up with them as they participated in a Science and History lesson. It was very pleasing to note how well all students were working together and how quickly our students from other schools were made to feel welcome. In the evening, many parents and carers of students in this group took the opportunity to attend a very helpful Year 7 Information Evening.

A great deal of progress has been made this past fortnight on Stage 1of our building program in relation to site works. A large amount of topsoil has now been removed from the site and transported as fill to the far side of the sports oval. Preparations are advancing in readiness for the laying of the concrete slab for this new building. We will continue to provide you with regular building progress updates as we observe the construction of this very impressive structure.

I often mention that one of the great privileges that I have in my role as Principal is to be able to attend a devotion presented by various staff members every morning of the week. During this past fortnight I have been continually challenged as staff have opened God’s word for us. I would like to share just one example that related to Psalm 105. This psalm provides a brief history of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites and it encouraged them to count all the miracles that He had done on their behalf. As staff members, we were then challenged about our own attitudes. We also have a tendency to look forward to what we want and currently don’t have. We can be in danger of becoming ‘glass half-empty’ people. The encouragement that we received was to redirect our focus to the many things that we’ve already been given. This will lead to a major change in our attitude. Joy begins to resurface and faith gets stronger. We can then adopt an ‘attitude of gratitude’!

As we are rapidly approaching the conclusion of our school year, I would encourage each one of us to take the time to look back over the events that have occurred in the life of our school during this year. I am confident that you will soon discover the many wonderful examples where God has richly blessed our school community. I would also encourage you to join with us on Wednesday, 11 December as we come together for our ‘Thanksgiving Evening’. This will be another special opportunity where we can give thanks to God ‘for all his wonderful acts’.

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