‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ Micah 6:8 (NIV)
Term 2 at NCS came to a conclusion today (Friday, 26 June) and I have little doubt that it will be a term that all members of our school community will remember for years to come! During the past nine weeks, we have all been taken on a ‘journey’ that we certainly would never have contemplated when the 2020 school year began.
As you would be fully aware, Term 2 commenced with an online educational delivery model having already been put in place as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 virus. Consequently, the vast majority of NCS students were located at home, completing their educational programs online. Many parents/carers found themselves placed in the role of supervisors whilst teaching staff developed innovative ways of presenting online lessons as well as ensuring that they maintained effective communication channels with all students.
As the number of active cases of COVID-19 in New South Wales was brought under increasing control, the process of returning students to onsite, teacher-directed learning gathered momentum. In fact, this return-to-school program occurred more quickly than most people anticipated and, by the commencement of Week 5, all NCS students found themselves back in the classroom.
As the saying goes, ‘the rest is history’ and the final five weeks of this term has seen all students back at school with our teachers directly delivering learning programs. However, it would not be absolutely correct to say that it is now ‘business as usual’. This is because we still have many hygiene and other safety protocols in place that have been deliberately designed to counter any dangers that the COVID-19 virus might present.
Whilst I am reflecting on the events of this term, I would again wish to take the opportunity to thank every member of the NCS community – parents, carers, students and staff – for the supportive manner in which you have all responded to the very real challenges that we have been facing. When I am carrying out enrolment interviews, I state to prospective parents and carers that ‘partnership’ between Home and School is one of the key characteristics of our school community. Without doubt, what I have witnessed since we have all been faced with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 virus has been a demonstration of this ‘partnership’ in action. As I have surveyed the arrival of families at the commencement of the school day, it has been incredibly encouraging to observe the willingness of parents and carers to drop-off or pick-up your children and then to promptly depart the school premises. You have all played an active role in ensuring that our school has continued to be a safe environment for your children to attend.
Even though there are events that have been unable to occur during Term 2, we have still witnessed many valuable learning activities and the final two weeks of term have been no exception. Staff have now essentially finalised the writing of reports that will provide an overview of what has been achieved by your children throughout this semester.
I will conclude this article by referring to just some of the significant events that have occurred during the past two weeks that highlight the amazing diversity of activities at our school. The first item that I would mention is a bitter-sweet one that has seen Mrs Gail Wainwright complete her final day at our school after a combined total of nearly 16 years of faithful service. In recent years, Mrs Wainwright has served as the Personal Assistant to the Head of Secondary. On Tuesday afternoon of this week, we held a special afternoon tea where we had the opportunity to fittingly farewell Mrs Wainwright. I previously used the term ‘bitter-sweet’ because, whilst we will greatly miss the wonderful contributions that Mrs Wainwright has faithfully made to our NCS team, we rejoice in the fact that she will now have opportunities to spend more time with family and friends, serving her church community and using her gifts and talents in new and exciting ways. At the same time, I am delighted to welcome Mrs Sharon Dunbar as she assumes this important role. Gail and Sharon have been working very closely together in recent times to ensure that a smooth transition will take place.
This last week of term also saw the farewell of another staff member when we said goodbye to Mr Owen Davies. Mr Davies has worked throughout Semester One to support teachers in assisting with the education of individual students in our Primary Department. We have greatly valued his input and expertise and wish him well for the future.
I often mention that we have much to thank our faithful Board members for as they work hard behind the scenes, ensuring that our school is well governed. Last Saturday morning saw further evidence of this dedicated approach as all of our Board members engaged in four hours of accredited online training. The topic for this training was ‘School Financial Management’ and it is a government compliance requirement that Board members complete four hours of approved training every year.
As most parents and carers would be aware, NCS belongs to the national CSA ‘family’ of schools. ‘CSA’ stands for Christian Schools Australia and each year in May this organisation joins with many other faith-based schools to hold the National Policy Forum in Canberra. Of course, the COVID-19 outbreak has meant that this Canberra Conference has been cancelled for this year. However, I recently had the opportunity to participate in an online version of this event. One of the key topics for discussion involved a careful reflection in relation to what schools had learned as a result of the implementation of major online educational programs as a result of the impact of COVID-19. It was generally agreed that all schools had discovered that there are many real advantages associated with online learning platforms. Consequently, it will be important for all schools to consider how they might blend online learning and teacher-directed lesson delivery as a possible future model. This is one important topic that our staff will consider when we gather together in three weeks’ time for our July Staff Conference Week.
Once again, I would like to remind everyone that our TAS/Visual Arts building program continues to make excellent progress. Construction has now reached the ‘lock-up’ stage and the fitting out of the Food Tech. room and other areas is well underway. External rendering is complete, some floor coverings have been laid and the internal walls are in place and painting will soon commence. External concrete sections and pathways are ready for pouring and some outside landscaping will soon occur. It is anticipated that this wonderful new educational facility will be ready for occupation around the middle of next term and we continue to give thanks to God for His provision of this amazing facility.
The final day of Term 2 was certainly a busy one with a number of special activities occurring. Our two Kindergarten classes held their ‘P’ Party where many of them came dressed in fancy costumes as princesses, pirates and there was even a pilot. Of course, many chose to come along in their pyjamas! The children also held a colourful ‘P’ Party parade.
As part of NAIDOC Week activities, Years 5 & 6 students have begun a native plant revegetation project on the school grounds. Students are planting native species that naturally grow in the local area. I was able to join with some of these students on the last day of term as they were involved in these planting activities.
During this past fortnight I have continued to be challenged by various staff members as we have participated in our online morning devotional programs. My focus verse for this final Term 2 edition of the Bytes is taken from one of these sessions. It comes from Micah 6:8 and states, ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (NIV) As the school term comes to a close and as some of us may well head away for holidays or to visit family and friends, this passage provides us with excellent advice. Wherever we may go, and whoever we may be with, if we follow this God-given advice, we can all make a positive contribution to those who we come into contact with.
Yes, we have come through a challenging Term 2 and I again thank you for your cooperation and support as we have faced these many changes together. I am also thankful that our school serves a great God who has again shown his faithfulness to our community during these difficult times. I trust that all of our NCS families will now be able to find some time for rest and relaxation over the coming three weeks. Our staff will look forward to the return of your children when Term 3 commences on Monday, 20 July.