I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation for the commitment and care of Rural Fire NSW and emergency services right across the fire affected parts of the Hastings. Furthermore, thank you to those staff who took extra precaution to ensure our students safety came first. I attended Remembrance Day on Monday and many servicemen and women likened our soldiers to the firefighters on the ground saving livestock, property and lives this week. Padre Carl Moses in his Benediction said “We remember all who placed service above self. Help us build better homes, communities and nations. Help us live with dignity, courage and honour”

There is still a need for us to stay vigilant and be prepared to act in line with our School’s Emergency Management Procedures should the threat of fire continue.

At our parent lounge last week, we discussed whole school initiatives that have and will continue to be our focus in 2020. “I-Write” allows students a set amount of time to write uninterrupted about a topic. The purpose of doing this is to build students’ literacy in order for them to communicate their understanding.  The ability to interpret and create texts with appropriateness, accuracy, confidence, fluency and efficacy for learning in and out of school, and for participating in Australian life more generally is the aim of this program. Our Writing Initiative has seen very positive results and on Friday 8 November, Imogen Lunn in Year 7 wrote this piece in Ms Bell’s English class.

 “Coughing, burning, red heat. Our country is alight. The only type of pouring rain we are receiving is bucketing flaky ash. It’s falling down upon us like a salt and pepper shaker, pouring rain of ash, soot and burnt leaves. It’s in our food, in our eyes, in our hair and in our lungs. The ash is the powder of beautiful bushland and the remnants of native animal homes. Their trees are burnt, their grass is dead, their once soft, fluffy fur is covered in ash rain. Australia is on fire.

Our sky is red, our water is grey, our schools are closed all because of the ash rain. Will the fire ever cease? Will the candle ever be snuffed? How much longer do we have to inhale the pouring ash rain?

Our firefighters are burnt out, they can’t keep fighting the menacing flames covering each town. Surely soon, the pouring ash rain must too burn out.

We are experiencing what feels like doomsday. Blood red skies full of ash rain.

We can’t live in a furnace forever. Couldn’t we please, please, just receive some normal, regular, cool, cold, pouring rain?”

Not only do we have impressive writers, but also environmentalists. Connor Goddard, in Year 10, recently wrote to the Prime Minister and Leslie Williams regarding the drought and its impact on the local community. We were thrilled yesterday when a very formal letter arrived at our office for Connor from the Prime Minister’s Office. Mr Morrison responded to his questions. Mrs Williams also personally phoned Connor to discuss the issue with him.

A massive congratulations to Jorjabelle Munday for being the winner of the Rotary Cluster 3 Public Speaking competition held on the 13 November.  Jojabelle has worked extremely hard and against tough competition proved she has outstanding speaking skills.

Our students have had an unsettling week and we have decided to move end of year course examinations to Monday 18 November. I hope this may relieve some stress and anxiety of not being at school the past few days.

For our Year 12 2020 Cohort, we have been operating classes for Year 12 students since Wednesday. My decision is to support our Year 12 students first and foremost. Due to the high number of absences though (understandable), staff have been providing students here at school with revision lessons and study opportunities rather than continue delivering ‘new’ content. We understand that Year 12 students will be anxious about missing class and can reassure them that this won’t be the case. It may mean a little more homework over the coming weeks and perhaps more Google classroom activities so that teachers can stay abreast of their content timelines.

The Year 12 Formal will be held on Thursday 21 November at Port Panthers and I know all the students and their families are looking forward to a night of celebrating the end of this chapter in their lives before taking on the challenges of the next.