Focus verses: Philippians 2: 1-11 (NIV)
A fortnight ago, when I wrote my first NCS Bytes article for this term, I referred to our July Staff Conference and mentioned that we were awaiting the return of our students the following Monday. Well, as mentioned above, that was two weeks ago and we have had the pleasure of the company of your children for the past fortnight. School is certainly a much more dynamic place when we have 413 young people from Kindergarten all the way through to Year 12 arriving each day! I can assure you that a great deal of effective teaching and learning has already occurred during these ten days.
As many of you would be directly aware, we have been holding a number of Parent/Teacher/Carer Interviews during this time. These have included two separate evenings for Primary interviews and one evening with a specific Stage 6 (HSC) focus. I was able to visit these interview locations on a number of occasions and it was very encouraging to observe parents/carers and teachers engaged in productive discussions. This is a classic example of effective ‘partnership’ in action and I am confident that these interviews will assist in the process of improving learning outcomes for your children.
Referring to the topic of ‘interviews’, I have continued to have the pleasure of meeting with further prospective school families, desiring to join our NCS community next year. Once again, when asked how they have heard about our school, they almost invariably say that it is a direct outcome of positive discussions with people they have met at work or in social settings who already have children at NCS. Of course, you are these ‘people’ and I would again thank you for the confidence that you have in our school that leads to your willingness to recommend us to other people that you meet.
One of the most ‘colourful’ highlights of this past fortnight occurred last Monday when our Kindergarten children celebrated their ‘100 Days at School’ Party. Mrs Meek, Mr McLennan and I were delighted to accept an invitation to attend the ‘100 Days Fashion Parade’ that was one of the major events associated with these celebrations. We joined with an enthusiastic audience of parents, carers, grandparents and other family members as each Kinder girl or boy paraded along the ‘catwalk’ in their specially made ‘100 School Days’ outfits. They did a wonderfully professional job of modelling these amazing outfits that had been lovingly created at home to depict the ‘100 Days’ theme through images that captured some of the major interests and hobbies of each child. (Thank you parents and carers for the time and effort that so many of you had obviously put into this important task!)
Every so often, I have the opportunity to accept an invitation to accompany staff and students as they participate in an excursion that takes them well beyond our NCS school setting. Just last Friday, I had the privilege of joining with Mrs Hetherington’s ‘Society and Culture’ HSC class as we travelled to the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple, located close to Wollongong. This course is currently focusing on the challenging topic of ‘Belief Systems and Ideology’. As part of this in-depth study, the students are investigating Buddhism and its place in the modern world. They are examining the impacts of secularisation on Australian society and the role that religion plays in the lives of people at a range of levels within our society. This excursion also provided many informal but rich conversational opportunities to discuss with our students the vital importance that a personal relationship with Jesus plays in our lives. Once again, I was incredibly impressed with the mature behaviour of our students throughout all stages of this excursion.
On this same Friday evening, my wife Sharon and I and other staff members from our school, comprised part of the supervising team as Nowra Christian School hosted Crossroads. This monthly event is held at the Nowra Baptist Church. Various churches and other Christian groups take turns to host this event and to provide supper for all present. Crossroads is an important ministry that provides Christian fellowship for those in our community who have a disability. Cindy Pearce, an NCS parent, capably coordinates this group and Alison Stewart, an NCS teacher, presented a creative devotion linking to the theme for the night which was ‘purple’. It was a great evening, thoroughly enjoyed by all in attendance!
As we look towards the future directions of our school, another very important event occurred on the evening of 29 July. This saw the first gathering of the NCS 40th Anniversary Celebrations Planning Committee. I had the privilege of joining with this enthusiastic group of Board members, parents/carers and staff as we began the initial stages of planning for this very significant occasion which will be celebrated next year by our entire school community, both past and present. There was a great deal of animated conversation as various articles of school memorabilia were examined. It was a most productive meeting with individual committee members volunteering to carry out further important roles. However, one key decision that was made related to the choosing of a date for the weekend where the major 40th Anniversary Celebration events would take place. After careful consideration, the weekend of 31 October/1 November has been chosen. Please ensure that you write this date into your 2020 diaries and take the opportunity to ‘spread the word’ far and wide to anyone who has ever had an association with our school as students, staff or parents/carers. We will ensure that we keep you updated in relation to further exciting details as the Planning Committee continues to meet.
(If you are an Alumni, please make sure you add yourself to the Alumni database at https://www.ncs.nsw.edu.au/alumni. Also, please share this link with other Alumni so that we can let them know about the celebrations.)
The final event that I would wish to refer to in this article occurred just last Thursday evening. Of course, I am referring to our ‘Insight 2019’ evening. I trust that you were one of the many parents/carers who took the opportunity to come along, otherwise I know that you will have missed out on a very special community event. We were very pleased with the number of NCS ‘family’ members who were able to join with us on this occasion and I am confident that you would not have been disappointed in the program that was presented.
It was very encouraging to be able to be personally introduced to our hard-working Board members and to receive an insightful update from Paul Dickinson, our Board Chair, in relation to Stage 1 of our Building Masterplan, with construction anticipated to commence during Term 4 of this year. There were numerous amazing performing arts items presented by our talented students that kept us entertained throughout the evening. We viewed a video clip that highlighted the strategic outcomes that have already been achieved as a result of appointing an inaugural Head of Teaching and Learning (K-12) at the start of this year. We also viewed two other informative clips that showed members of our school community engaging in two challenging activities that were designed to test both inner-character and personal commitment. These were the participation by Year 12 student, Zoe Plant, in the ‘Young Endeavour’ sailing ship program and the involvement of 43 students, staff and parents/carers in the ‘Ration Challenge’ held in support of Syrian refugees. If you missed Insight, all these videos will be shared on our Facebook page or can be watched by clicking on the links in this paragraph.
My Focus Verses for this fortnight come from Philippians 2: 1-11. I have used these wonderful verses before but I believe that they relate powerfully to the topic of ‘Character’. This is one of the three ‘official' NCS ‘values’; the other two being ‘Care’ and ‘Community’. During our ‘Insight 2019’ program, one of our Board members, Ryan Heard, spent a little time focusing on this quality of ‘Character’. Mr Heard stated that ‘character’ is the intrinsic essence of a person. It is who we truly are. It is what we are like when we are alone and no one is looking. It is displayed through how we treat others, especially those who can offer us nothing in return. At NCS, we want to assist our students to develop character of the highest quality. For this reason, we always point our students to the perfect example of Jesus. We are able to introduce them to His goodness, His justice, His patience, His love and His gentleness.
I will conclude by stating that, as I observe our students in action in the classroom, working in groups, conversing with their parents/carers, staff and fellow students, assisting in areas of community service, representing our school in sporting and other events, I am frequently greatly encouraged by the character qualities that I see them displaying. I am even more encouraged when members of our wider community take the time to contact our school to convey how impressed they have been with the character qualities exhibited by our students when they have randomly encountered them during various excursions or community projects. Of course, we must never become complacent as this process of character development is a life-long journey that, not only our NCS students but each one of us, is involved in on a daily basis. Let’s continue to look to Jesus as our perfect example.