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A note from Mr Bray - 8 May 2020

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Two weeks of Term Two have now been completed but we are unable to quite say that it has been ‘business as usual’! The first two days of term were designated as being ‘Pupil Free Days’ and, during this time, all of our teaching staff members were very busy as they were further preparing online lessons. I mentioned that it was not exactly ‘business as usual’ because, during these past two weeks, many of our students have continued to work from home, accessing their online lessons. Of course, school has remained open for the children of parents who have been unable to provide supervision at home for a variety of reasons.

Nevertheless, we did see signs of the potential for the beginning of a return to some degree of ‘normality’ in that our Years 11 & 12 HSC students were in attendance at school for three days during each of these weeks. Whilst they were at school, our HSC students participated in teacher-directed lessons. It gave our staff great pleasure to witness the enthusiasm with which these senior students returned to school. They were delighted to be back with their classmates and were also clearly appreciative that their teachers were available to provide direct instruction. There was a great sense of healthy ‘community’ as teachers and students shared delicious morning teas and lunches together that had been prepared by members of staff.

As outlined in my recent letter sent to all parents and carers, the next two weeks will see an increase in this transition process of students returning to school. During Week 3, our HSC students will again be at school for three full days. All other students (K-10) have been rostered to attend for one day per week during which time they will receive direct instruction from their teachers. Week 4 will see the fulltime return to school of our Infants classes (K-2) whilst all students in Years 3-10 will again attend for one day per week.

There is little doubt that schools ‘come to life’ when our students are present and, as the NCS community, I am sure that we are all looking forward to the future time that will see us all back together again. With this in mind, I will be sending out a further letter in the near future that will provide details in relation to Phase 2 of our ‘transition back to school timeline’. Phase 2 covers Weeks 5 & 6. We are, of course, very conscious of the need to ensure that this process takes place in such a way that we can best protect the health and wellbeing of all members of our school community.

To assist with this transition process, Mrs Dearsley and Mrs Donald, our two school counsellors, have produced two very helpful and engaging videos that are designed to provide practical advice for both students and parents/carers as we all navigate this time of continual change. The first of these videos reflects back over the many changes that the 2020 year has brought with it. Our counsellors identify three major stages that we pass through during this journey of change. They acknowledge that these changes have been unsettling but they remind us that we have grown and learned new things about ourselves as a result. We are also encouraged to consider where our relationship with God ‘fits into this picture’ of change. They conclude the first video with the promising statement that we are beginning the journey back to some degree of ‘normality’. The second shorter video sets out to provide practical tips, designed to manage anxiety during times of uncertainty. Both of these videos are located on the NCS website and Facebook page and I would very much commend them to your attention.

During this past fortnight I again had the privilege of attending our TAS/Visual Arts Building PCG (Project Control Group) meeting. This was the seventh such meeting that brings together representatives of our school, our building company and our architects. We had the opportunity to inspect the building site and I am pleased to report that good progress is being made. It is encouraging to see this very impressive building taking shape. In many ways, this project provides us with a clear reminder that, although we may currently seem to be surrounded by the uncertainty created as a result of the impact of COVID-19, Nowra Christian School is continuing to build and plan for an exciting future.

As I am sure is the case for many of us at present, due to the physical distancing restrictions imposed on us by the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been involved in numerous ‘Zoom’ and ‘Google Meet’ virtual meetings during the past weeks. This is how the members of my church homegroup have been coming together. Last week during our homegroup time, I was greatly challenged by a statement contained in the study book that we are using. It referred to a comment made by the 20th century Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple who once said, ‘Your religion is what you do with your solitude. Wherever your mind goes most naturally and freely when there is nothing else to distract it – that is what you really live for. Your life is shaped by whatever preoccupies your mind.’

During the past months, our media has been dominated by one topic and that has been COVID-19. Everywhere we turn, we see disturbing images of a world in ‘lock-down’. Our screens are full of depressing statistics about the numbers of new cases, of people admitted to emergency hospital units and of long unemployment queues as our industries are forced to close down. There is a danger that these are the images that will ‘preoccupy our minds’ and begin to ‘shape our lives and thinking’. My focus verse for this fortnight is Philippians 4:8, an encouraging verse that I have shared with you before. In this verse, the Apostle Paul states, ‘Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.’ If there are times when our thoughts are in danger of being dominated by COVID-19 considerations, let’s accept the advice of the Apostle Paul and think about the wonderfully refreshing list of attributes that he refers to in this very encouraging verse.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the mothers in our NCS community a very happy Mothers’ Day. Thank you for the exceptionally valuable role that you play as mothers (and grandmothers and even great grandmothers) as you set a positive example and provide nurture and encouragement for the young people who attend our school. Indeed our society owes a great debt of gratitude to all of our mothers. Yes, we ‘officially’ recognise this fact on Mothers’ Day but it is equally important for all of us to realise that our mothers are faithfully supporting us every day throughout the year.

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