I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)
This past fortnight has provided our students with many opportunities to participate in a wide variety of learning activities. It has also brought us to the conclusion of Week 4 which means that Term 2 is now well underway!
It is that time of the year, once again, which sees many of our talented students from both Primary and Secondary participating in group and individual sections of the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod. Students from our school will be able to enter into three different sections. These are choral, instrumental and drama. NCS has always been a great supporter of the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod, winning the ‘Eisteddfod Schools Encouragement Award’ last year. On Thursday, 23 May, I had the pleasure of dropping into the venue when two of our amazing choral groups were performing. I was delighted to listen to our Primary Choir as they presented two items. These were entitled ‘Five Eyes’ and ‘Shadows of Africa’. There were many other Primary schools represented in this section and the excellent performance by our students was rewarded with a third place prize from the judges. It was then the turn of our Secondary Ensemble and they too performed very professionally. They presented two items entitled ‘Once Upon a December’ and ‘Strange Birds’. The judges were, once again, very impressed with this performance and our students received a second placing within their category. Further events involving our students are scheduled all the way through to 5 June and the entire program will culminate with the presentation of the ‘Stars of the Eisteddfod’ Concert.
Last week from 14-16 May saw students from Years 3,5,7 and 9 involved in the NAPLAN testing program. These tests cover the key areas of literacy and numeracy. Although there were a number of organisational difficulties reported in the press, especially in relation to schools completing online tests, everything ran very smoothly at our school. I would wish to publicly thank all staff members involved for their important contributions to the excellent organisation of this three-day testing program.
On Friday, 17 May, I was delighted to join with many parents and carers as part of the audience for the Primary Assembly. This assembly was organised by students from Stage 3 (Years 5 and 6) and the program contained a wonderful variety of items. There was an entertaining slideshow and video presentation of the recent Stage 3 camp to Canberra. We also enjoyed a drama presentation that showcased how parliamentarians operate as they engage in debates and decision-making processes. Parent and staff helpers who had assisted at the camp were also recognised by our grateful students who presented them with cards and a small gift. Students who participated in the recent ‘Relay for Life’ activities received certificates in recognition of their dedicated fundraising efforts and numerous other students were presented with ribbons that they had won for Cross Country. Blue Merit Awards were also given out to many deserving students. We sang two worship songs together and another group of students presented a Bible reading and short devotion. We spent a wonderful time together and I left feeling greatly encouraged as a result of the many talented contributions made by our students throughout the assembly.
From Monday to Wednesday of this past week, Mrs Meek, Head of Secondary, and I have had the privilege of attending the Christian Schools National Policy Forum and Symposium that is held annually in Canberra. We were delighted to join with over 300 delegates drawn from Christian schools and other faith-based organisations located in every state and territory throughout Australia. This event provided us with a wonderful opportunity to be updated in relation to many of the latest trends and developments of direct relevance to our school and the Christian schooling movement as a whole. We were addressed by politicians, research experts and representatives from a range of educational and faith-based institutions. The smaller workshops provided us with the opportunity to engage in interactive discussions on a wide variety of relevant topics. We have returned to NCS with lots of helpful information still to process and to share with our staff teams.
Throughout the year, I have the great privilege of conducting enrolment interviews with the many families who are desiring to join our NCS community. Mrs Meek and Mr McLennan, our Heads of Schools, are also present during many of these interviews. One of the regular questions that we ask is ‘How did you hear about NCS?’ Almost without exception, we will be told that they have come to this interview because of the positive word of mouth about our school that has been shared with them by current (or past) school families. I would wish to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our parents and carers for your willingness to endorse our school in this way. We are greatly encouraged that you are prepared to convey your confidence in our school programs to your friends and acquaintances.
I have referred to the National Policy Forum above and one of the special blessings associated with this event was to be able to begin each day with community singing and a devotion. The music for these songs of worship was provided by the talented students from Brindabella Christian College in Canberra. My focus verses for this fortnight are taken from one of these devotional sessions. Psalm 121: 1-2 states ‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.’ Throughout the conference, we were reminded, directly and indirectly, on numerous occasions of this amazing truth. As leaders in Christian schools there will be times when we are faced with challenges that test our human understanding. However, we serve a God who is the source of all knowledge and wisdom and this is the same God Who desires to guide and direct us if we would only seek His advice. Of course, the reassurances contained in these verses are available to all of us. We serve a faithful God who patiently waits for us to come to Him in grateful recognition that he is, indeed, the ‘Maker of heaven and earth’ and his ‘help’ will never fail us.