Middle School Celebrates 20 Years
This term we have been commemorating 20 years of middle schooling at Northside. Milestones are progressive markers along a journey which show step by step, incremental growth. Just as we commemorate and celebrate the developmental milestones of our children with graduations and academic awards, we have been doing the same for Middle School.
Twenty years doesn’t mean we have arrived, but it’s certainly a milestone in the journey that the we are on. Where most schools in Queensland are only four years into the journey of incorporating Year 7 into a Junior Secondary structure, Northside’s Middle School was initiated in 1999. It has since gone from strength to strength. Recently I was looking through the 20 years of College yearbooks since I started here at Northside and, the faces may have changed, as have the variety of activities on offer, but many of the fundamental aspects of our initial vision of the middle schooling concept remain today. Some of these ‘foundation stones’ include intentional pastoral care structures, year level camps such as the fantastic Year 7 Canberra Trip, student leadership and events, ‘digital discipleship’, elements of gender streaming, core teachers, blocks of time, innovative programs, and advocacy for a Middle School identity in the broader Northside Christian College context.
The importance of celebrating education milestones are many. Both for our children and for our Middle School. Achieving milestones in education signifies growth, no matter what age and stage. Being human is all about continual learning and growth. In reaching and achieving education milestones, identity is established and built. By marking milestones with celebrations, rituals or even just acknowledgement, a sense of belonging and connectedness is consolidated. Celebrating key milestones in education allows us to pause and take stock. We can reflect on where they have come from and where they are heading.
The middle years of schooling is crucial in laying a foundation for the senior years and also a time of ongoing and significant development for young people. The middle years “can be seen as a richly coloured and cleverly crafted mosaic, comprising a variety of elements (or materials). Each part of the mosaic – curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, organisation and pastoral care – is integral and provides its own unique contribution”. At Northside we recognise God as the ‘grout’ that holds all of the pieces of this mosaic together.
In finishing, I think it appropriate to end this address with a quote from our founding Head of Middle School, Mr Michael Long, who stated in his 2003 yearbook article these words that remain true of the Middle School every year to this day.
“[It] has been a year of much activity and learning, intertwined with many co-curricular opportunities, development in the Arts, leadership teams and sporting successes that all interconnect in our Christ-centred program…Thanks to all our parents, teachers, support staff and the students themselves who have given so much to enrich our Middle School. Above all, our thanks go to our Lord Jesus Christ, who is authoring, with each of us as His co-workers, to weave the fabric of the lives of these special children. We value and appreciate every person who has been such a co-worker with Christ and us. Please understand that we recognise the important part each one of you plays in the life of the Middle School community.”