Matthew 18:20 ‘For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’
I have been asking myself the question this week, ‘what makes a genuine community?’ The word ‘community’ is frequently used in our everyday conversations. By definition, a ‘community’ is formed whenever a number of people, animals or things are found grouped together. Consequently, we can have sporting communities, communities centering around particular interests and hobbies, church communities, defence communities, farming communities, urban communities and the list can be endless.
Obviously, we also have educational communities and NCS is a vibrant example of such a community. In fact the word ‘community’ appears prominently in our school’s mission statement that reads ‘provide a Christian educational community as a centre of teaching and learning excellence, founded on Biblically based beliefs, values and behavior.’
The catalyst that has prompted my consideration of this question has been the community sentiment surveys that I briefly referred to last week in my BYTES article. Since that time, all NCS parents and carers have received an email from me, encouraging each one of you to find approximately 30 minutes to participate in a strategically important survey being independently administered by Resolve Consulting on behalf of the school board. This email contained a direct link to the actual survey which begins with an introduction from Mr Dixon, our board chairman, warmly inviting all parents and carers to participate. All staff and students from Years 5-12 will also be encouraged to complete these surveys.
This brings me back to my original question of ‘What makes a genuine community?’ Clearly the school board would answer this question by stating that a healthy community can only be nurtured and strengthened when all sections of that community have the opportunity to provide direct input in relation to the aspects that they value most. This is exactly what this survey is designed to achieve. We are eager to hear directly from you. We want to know what you value about NCS and what areas you wish to see even further developed.
Perhaps you have already found the approximately 30 minutes required to complete this survey and, if so, we sincerely thank you for your helpful input. We all live busy lives and, no doubt, this coming weekend will contain many events and commitments that you and your family will be involved in. However, can I encourage you to plan ahead and consider where you might be able to locate that 30 minute ‘window’ where you can open the survey link and engage the range of questions that are designed to seek your personal input? By completing this survey, you will be making a vital contribution to the strategic planning process that will shape the future directions and priorities of our school!
Once again, I would encourage you to carefully read the many articles that are contained in this edition of BYTES. Such a reading will clearly demonstrate that NCS is, indeed, a healthy educational community. As I am writing this article on Wednesday evening, I have just returned from Sydney where I had the privilege of accompanying Rachel Hill and Noah McMillan, two of our Year 11 student leaders, whilst they participated in the ‘2017 Kiama Electorate Student Leaders’ Forum’. The forum was held at the NSW Parliament House and student leaders from schools throughout the Kiama electorate were invited by our local state member, Mr Gareth Ward, to participate in this valuable program. We were directly addressed by a number of state parliamentarians, including Gladys Berejiklian, the current Premier of our state. You can read more about this program, including comments from Rachel and Noah, elsewhere in BYTES.
This week also saw the conducting of the NAPLAN (National Assessment Program, Literacy and Numeracy) testing program for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. These tests were held at NCS over three days (Tuesday – Thursday). The areas tested included language conventions and writing, reading and numeracy.
Finally, I would draw your attention to information that outlines details of a very important ‘trial’ program being conducted by our school canteen for the remainder of Term 2. This will see an extension of both canteen hours and services. Students will now have the opportunity to buy lunches on a Wednesday. The canteen already provides a wonderful range of delicious and healthy lunches on Mondays and Fridays and this is now being extended to cover three days per week. Our canteen provides an incredibly valuable service for the students in our school and we are most thankful for the faithful contributions of Mrs Lisa Merison, our canteen manager, and our team of parent/carer and student helpers. You can also read further details about this significant trial extension of canteen services elsewhere in BYTES.