Focus verse: ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ John 15: 13
I am confident that all members of our school community will remember this past fortnight for many years to come. It is a very unusual event to close a school completely in mid-term and, of course, this is the decision that was made on Tuesday of this past week as a result of the fire rating level in the Shoalhaven district reaching ‘catastrophic’. We can more fully understand the scope of the bushfire threat facing our state when we realise that NCS was just one of more than 600 schools and TAFE centres who made the significant decision to close on this day.
I would wish to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all parents and carers for your understanding and cooperation throughout this challenging day. Thank you also to those who faithfully prayed for safety for our firefighters and emergency service personnel. Although it was a very confronting time for many people living in the fire zones, prayers were certainly answered in that there was no further loss of life on this day.
Amidst all the tension and drama associated with these fires, many other important events and programs have occurred at our school during the past two weeks. On Monday 11 November at 11am, all Primary students were assembled outside in front of the flagpoles to mark the 100th anniversary of Remembrance Day. This is a solemn occasion that specifically recognises the moment when the guns fell silent on the Western Front after more than four years of fighting. This was the moment when World War One officially ceased. At exactly 11am the ‘Ode of Remembrance’ was read out and all Primary students and Secondary students, who were in their classrooms, stood in silence for one minute as a sign of respect to honour those who had given their lives in the cause of freedom.
On this same Monday, we marked another quite different but very significant event in the life of our school. This was the day when our Stage 1 Building Program officially commenced after many, many months of careful planning and preparation. In order to officially recognise this occasion, a small ceremony was held on the site where our Technological and Applied Studies (TAS) and Visual Arts Centre will be built. We gathered with key representatives of our architectural and building companies to symbolically ‘turn the first sod’ in this major building program. We used a shiny silver spade wrapped in ribbon but very soon large machines will dig up the site, preparing to lay the foundations for the building program that will follow. We are looking forward to providing you with regular building updates in future editions of the BYTES as we closely follow the progress of this exciting new stage in the journey of our school.
During this past fortnight I have had the privilege of witnessing groups of our talented students using their gifts and abilities both within and beyond the school gates. The first occasion involved members of our Concert Band as they presented an outdoor performance at White Sands Park in Huskisson and then went on to play at the Vincentia Marketplace. Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for the performance in the park but I know that their musical abilities were warmly appreciated by those who were passing by on a beautiful sunny morning.
On the second occasion, Mrs Bignell and I were invited to be adjudicators for the final of the annual ‘Speak to Me’ public speaking competition. The goal of this competition is to encourage an appreciation for the art of public speaking and to assist our students to develop the necessary skills to speak confidently to an audience. The ‘Speak to Me’ Final was held on 7 November but, prior to this, all students in Years 7-10 had delivered a speech in their English classes on the topic ‘Turn on the Lights’. Two speakers from each class were then chosen to participate in the final of this event. The speeches were certainly entertaining and delivered with flair and confidence. Congratulations are extended to Maddie P, the Stage 5 winner and to Chloe G and Jasmine H, who were the joint Stage 4 winners.
On the evening of Tuesday 5 November, I was privileged to join with NCS parents and carers who are members of the ‘Different Like Me’ Support Group. This is our NCS support group for families with children who have extra needs. We enjoyed a hot drink and some light refreshments before two of our parents, Mel Kilby and Kylieanne Derwent, provided a most informative presentation on the topic of ‘Parenting through Autistic Eyes’. I learned so much valuable information as a result of listening to our two parents share their experiences and was able to develop a much deeper understanding of this important topic. ‘Different Like Me’ is held once per term and I would encourage any parents who have children with special learning styles to email our contact person, Robyn Poulden, for further information about this valuable initiative. We are planning a special dinner before the conclusion of this term and this would provide a relaxed setting for you to meet with other NCS parents who are already members of this group. Robyn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, 8 November marked a very important milestone in the journey of our HSC students. This was the day when the final HSC examination, involving NCS students was held. Thank you to all parents and carers for your faithful prayer support for our students throughout this rather long examination period. I would also wish to publicly acknowledge Mr Mark Dodd and his team of examination supervisors for the most professional manner in which they conducted the entire examination program. Our Year 12 HSC students have completed their formal time with us at NCS and they can now look forward to a well-earned rest. However, this year’s Year 11 students are about to become our Year 12 students as they join with a new group of Year 11 students to commence their Foundation Studies program next Monday.
On the middle weekend of this past fortnight, I had the pleasure of travelling to Kerang in northern Victoria where I had been invited to speak at the Regional Christian Schools Board Forum. This event saw the gathering together of Principals and Board members from remote/rural schools located mainly in Victoria, with the exception of Deniliquin Christian College in NSW. The major focus of this meeting was to examine ways in which smaller Christian schools can work together to maximise their efficiency and impact. I was greatly encouraged by the commitment and enthusiasm shown by these leaders of smaller Christian schools as they creatively considered how best to deliver quality educational programs to their school families. I was again reminded that we belong to a large national ‘family’ of like-minded Christian schools. I would encourage you to support in prayer our sister schools who are located in these more remote regional areas.
Last Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of joining with many NCS families as we comprised the audience for the Stage 5 ‘Celebrate Creativity’ Night. This annual event showcases the talents of our Years 9 and 10 students in the areas of the creative and performing arts. The evening commenced in the gallery area of the MPC where we were able to view an amazing visual arts and wood technology display. From there we moved to the music room where we were treated to a most professional performance program that included music, song, dance and drama. It was a wonderful evening, enjoyed greatly by all in attendance.
Our fortnight concluded with the holding of our Year 10 ‘Celebration Assembly’. This very special event is held to recognise the completion of the Year 10 stage of schooling. Many family members were in attendance to share this moment with their children. The program was largely run by our talented Year 10 students and included some enjoyable musical items. Certificates for academic excellence were presented to a number of students. Every student also received a certificate, recognising the completion of the Year 10 level of schooling. Our Bible reading for the assembly was Psalm 1 and Mrs Thompson, Year 10 Level Advisor, provided an insightful devotion that focused on this psalm. Mrs Thompson emphasised the importance of ‘meditating’ or focusing on what really matters, in this case God’s word and His directions for living. The assembly concluded with an invitation for Year 10 students and their families to share a delightful morning tea together.
During the Remembrance Day ceremony, I was powerfully reminded of the topic of ‘sacrifice’. As we stood for a minute’s silence, I was able to reflect on the thousands of men and women who had been prepared to lay down their lives in the cause of freedom. It was their desire to keep Australia as a safe and secure land where their family and friends could continue to live in peace. I was further reminded of the words of Jesus in John 15 where he teaches us much about true love and how such love is exemplified through sacrifice for others. Jesus reminded His followers that He no longer called them servants but regarded them as being His friends. The Bible goes on to record that Jesus would make the ultimate sacrifice whereby He would lay down His life for all mankind. He was prepared to suffer and die a cruel death on a cross so that we might have the opportunity to trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins and receive the opportunity to enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven. Indeed there can be no ‘greater love’ than this!