A note from Mr Bray - 7 August, 2020
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12: 24(b)- 27 (NIV)
Term 3 is now well underway and I am pleased to report that our learning programs are running smoothly as students settle back into an effective working routine. It may come as a surprise to some of you that our senior students will commence their HSC Trial Examinations in just over a fortnight’s time. At the moment, they are busily finalising course work at the same time as they establish effective home study routines. Please remember to keep these students in mind and to pray that they will remain fit and well and be able to demonstrate what they have learned as they complete their various examinations.
On Thursday, 30 July, I was pleased to accept an invitation from Madame Wilkinson, the teacher of our HSC French Beginners class, to join the audience at a special event designed to showcase the language skills of each member of this class. The program was created as a fashion/catwalk parade where the students demonstrated their French language skills by describing the clothes, appearance, hobbies, interests and any other relevant information in relation to the person who was parading on the catwalk. The students did a wonderful job, especially as they have only been learning the French language for approximately nine months. They ensured that their comments were engaging and enthusiastic as they set about to competently complete this important assessment task.
As parents and carers would be aware, one of the three key values of our school is ‘community’ and, to a considerable extent, the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted our ability to gather physically together. I am sure that we are all looking forward to the time when we can again become audience members during our school assemblies as we celebrate important events and enjoy a range of student items. Nevertheless, we are thankful for the technology that allows us to share virtually in these events. This was the case on Friday, 31 July when we held our NAIDOC Week Assembly. The focus of this assembly was a celebration of our Aboriginal peoples and their rich culture. Our virtual guest speaker was Brooke Prentise, the CEO of Common Grace, a Christian organisation. Brooke stated that she is the first Aboriginal woman to become the CEO of a national organisation of this type. She focused on the importance of community, of young people representing our future and of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were the first inhabitants of Australia. (You can view this entire assembly here.)
Another important ‘milestone’ that occurred during this past fortnight was when our Kindergarten children celebrated their ‘100 Days Anniversary’. This saw all of the children and their teachers coming to school dressed in amazing costumes that creatively depicted the fact that the first one hundred days of their schooling journey had now been completed. This was a very special occasion to celebrate as, in many ways, the impacts of COVID-19 have led to a somewhat disrupted start to their first year of schooling. It was certainly a day of big smiles, colourful costumes and enjoyable activities!
I have regularly provided you with pictorial updates in relation to our TAS/Visual Arts building program. I am delighted to report that significant progress has also been made during the past two weeks. Further work has been carried out on the interior of the building, including a lot of joinery work in the Food Technology and Visual Arts areas. However, one of the most obvious developments has been the completion of major external concreting works. This has paved the way for external painting of the building to commence as well as some initial landscaping activities. We are all very much looking forward to the anticipated completion of this project later in Term 3.
Another very important event in the life of our school occurred last Wednesday evening when we held the NCS Annual General Meeting which is attended by company members. The agenda included the presentation of financial details for the 2019 year and the election of Board members. We also recognised the wonderful contribution of retiring Board members. In particular at this meeting we honoured the services of Mr Kurt Clifton, one of our school parents, who has faithfully served on the Board for many years, including the important role of Board Treasurer. I also had an opportunity to present my Principal’s Report that provided an overview of many of the key events of the past 12 months during what has been a very challenging time on occasions due to the impacts of COVID-19 on our school programs.
One important item of general business that I would wish to draw to the attention of all members of our school community is that at this meeting the Board announced that, after a period of extensive research, Nowra Christian School would now be operating a Missional Enrolment Policy. This policy allows all interested families access to our school as long as the parents/carers are fully supportive of the fact that every activity at our school is presented from a Christian worldview perspective. As part of this initiative, it was also announced that Mrs Catriona Thompson, an experienced senior teacher at our school, would assume the very important new position of Head of Christian Teaching and Learning as of the beginning of next year. Mrs Thompson is already operating as the Head of Teaching and Learning but will be given an increased time allocation to further ensure that every aspect of our curriculum programs and delivery is carefully designed from a Christian worldview perspective. I would wish to congratulate Mrs Thompson on her appointment to this very strategic role within our school. This is just one of many new initiatives that the Board is exploring, all of which have the deliberate intention of further supporting the Christian culture of our school.
Every year, our Kindergarten staff organise a comprehensive program, designed to familiarise prospective families with our Kindergarten class. Usually this involves the holding of a number of Kindergarten Open Mornings. Obviously, the impacts of COVID-19 have meant that we are unable to hold a physical gathering here at the school. However, I am pleased to report that we held a very successful ‘virtual’ Kindergarten Open Morning last Friday that saw a number of children and their parents participating in a Zoom session. This technology allowed these children to meet with our Kindergarten teachers and some of our current students as well as participating in a variety of typical classroom activities. I had the pleasure of welcoming these families to our virtual classroom and feel confident that this was a very helpful experience for all involved.
As I conclude my Bytes article for this fortnight, I would wish to draw to your attention the very serious situation that staff and students are currently facing in all schools throughout Victoria. Due to the rapid rise in the spread of the COVID-19 virus within the community, all Victorian schools are now, once again, operating an online lesson delivery program. This applies to all students, except for a very small number whose parents work in essential industries or who meet other specific criteria. This means that Years 11 and 12 students are also now unable to attend school during these crucial times as they approach their external examinations. This concerning situation in Victorian schools reminded me of the larger passage in 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 that refers to the body being made up of many parts and the fact that every part is important for the body to function to its full potential. This is a reminder to all those who have faith in God that we need one another, that we are all part of the one body, that we all belong together and have a role to play. In particular, I would wish to highlight verse 26(a) which states, ‘If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.’ At the present time, students, staff and parents who belong to schools in Victoria are hurting, and this includes a number of schools belonging to our own CSA ‘family’. I would encourage you to read this entire passage with your children and then to pray earnestly for all members of these school communities as they confront the challenges caused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.