Rehoboth Christian College > Blog > Articles by: Mr Stirling

Jason on Top of the World (Again)

Congratulations to Jason Anggadjaja for being this year’s Education Perfect top student in Indonesian in the world (for the second year in a row).

In the overall languages category, Jason finished 7th globally, and was awarded an Elite Award.

Two other students, Rabecca Hulston and Jessica Christoper received Gold Certificates. As a school, Rehoboth finished 1st in WA and 8th in Australia in schools of our size.

In the Social Science Competition these students recieved Gold Certificates:

Rabecca Hulston

Maggie Goiran

Emily Hobday

Jehoni Lukunga

Timothy Ong

Rachelle Winarto

Yonnie Lee

Joash Oostryck 

Jordan Tuffin

Rehoboth came 1st in WA and Australia in schools of our size (and 9th overall globally against all schools, out of 830 schools).

Keeping Exams in Perspective

You are probably aware that I see the value of exams and the skills learnt through the process of revision. There’s no doubt that exams are an important measure of a student’s academic ability (primarily for university entrance). However, they are just one measure of a child’s academic performance on a particular hour and day, under quite stressful and time pressured conditions. Many other skills and tasks go together to give an assessment of a child’s performance.

Progress is every bit as important as performance.

When we look at it, our measure of success is far broader than an academic ranking. We are convinced that character, perseverance, a love of learning, social, physical, emotional, cultural, and spiritual development are every bit as crucial in the holistic Christian education of our students.

An exam score doesn’t reflect your potential – look at the many people who weren’t always a success at school, but found their niche later on. The exam pathway is not the only pathway in any case. As we often say, one size doesn’t fit all!

Among our students sitting exams are artists, whose score in Maths may not be that high. There are entrepreneurs, who may not be interested in Science. There are musicians, whose marks in Humanities may not be a priority for them. There may be an athlete, whose physical fitness is probably more important than top marks. There may be a computer programmer, who might struggle in writing essays.

In fact, when we talk about the 21st Century learning skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration, very few of these things are measured in exam performance. Let’s keep things in perspective.

If your child gets top marks, that’s great. But if they don’t, it’s okay, and it’s just an exam. They are fearfully and wonderfully made, and destined for much bigger things in life. God has made each of us uniquely, with different talents and gifting. Don’t fall into the trap of measuring one student against another. No matter what each student scores… you love them and will not judge them. One exam or low mark will not take away their talent nor their dreams. It is a trap to assume that doctors, lawyers and engineers are the only successful people in the world. In fact, if you come up with a list of heroes that you can think of, I doubt many doctors, lawyers and engineers would make the list.

Enlarge the Place of Your Tent: Learning from William Carey

I was reading something on the life of William Carey (the missionary to India) the other week and noted that it was a sermon on Isaiah 54:2-3 which gave him his life’s mission. The passage reads:

“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.”

In 1792, when Carey preached on this verse, the title of his message was: “Expect Great Things from God; Attempt Great things for God”.

Looking at this verse, it occurs to me that “Enlargement” is an encouragement to think big, dream big and get a bigger perspective.

When a black dot is put on a screen, this always becomes the focus, rather than the big white screen. We need to make God bigger, not the small issues of life. God is bigger than opposition, crisis, disappointment, health, financial problems, or whatever it is you’re dealing with.

In what do we place our hope? “Stretching” involves getting past our current limits (“I press on…” says Paul), which operates like making a muscle stronger.

“Do not hold back” involves overcoming fear. There are times when we need to do things that make us afraid, and break the hold it has over us.

“Lengthen” is to go further in output and effort. Going the extra mile is extra, not normal.

“Strengthen” involves the development of character, which enables us to deal with the things that come. If we are not strong on the inside, we will be moved from our path when trials come.

Image: Wikicommons

Addressing the Issues: What Makes the Wise Men Wise?

Rehoboth Christian College Jason on Top of the World (Again)The story of the wise men is an interesting one.

For one thing there weren’t necessarily three. There were three gifts, that’s why we assume there were three wise men. Secondly, they are invariably pictured on camels. The Bible says they rode, but it doesn’t say on what. We assume they were camels, because they came from the East, but we need to be careful and make sure that our understanding doesn’t come from Christmas Cards, but from what it actually says in God’s Word.

The wise men went in search of a king, and found their way to Herod’s palace. They had wrong expectations and therefore ended up looking in the wrong places.

The will of God doesn’t always take you to the spectacular, nor the comfortable, nor to your preferred direction, but it will take you to the significant, to a place that matters. Who could believe that something so significant would occur in a stable? Who could believe that “anything good could come out of Nazareth”?

As I read this story, it seems to me that there were three wise things about the wise men:

They adjusted their expectations rather than their vision

Unwise people give up on God when disappointment or trouble comes. Trouble or disappointment isn’t necessarily a sign that you are being tested or that you aren’t on the right track. Perhaps you just need to adjust your time frame.

They were willing to ask for directions

The attitude of “no-one can teach me or tell me anything” is unwise. The wise men stopped at Herod’s palace, but they also knew when to move on. Proverbs 12:15 says that it is “A fool [who] is wise in his own eyes”.

They stayed open to God’s leading, even when they had a measure of success

The attitude of “I’ve made it” can be an issue. People forget so quickly what they did to get them there. The problem isn’t that God has stopped speaking, but that in the busyness of life and success, we have stopped listening. Sometimes we only look for leading when we get into trouble.

The wise men didn’t just start well, they finished well. Jesus didn’t just get born well, but He died well. Even in death, while He was dying for the sin of mankind, His amazing grace is shown by His concern about His mother and John, the thief crucified next to Him, and those who were crucifying Him. He was so concerned about others that He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing”.

We serve an amazing Jesus.

Addressing the Issues: A Message from a Year 12 Student

Last week, Josiah Kappert, one of our leaving Year 12 students, delivered an address on the final day in a farewell assembly to our Year 7-11 students. I thought that readers might be interested in what he had to say, and I have included most of his address below. For all those who have come to know Josiah over his time at Rehoboth, he is a remarkable young man.

Mr Stirling

Rehoboth Christian College Jason on Top of the World (Again)Now I come, on behalf of the Year 12s, to present for you something that is very close to my heart. It’s a topic that I believe that students struggle with the most, and that is identity. What is identity? Well, identity is who we are. The “buzz” words that match identity are world like, different, set apart, and unique.

The whole idea of identity is that each of us is different – but we are all created in God’s image. Therefore, you guys are equally as important as the person next to you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the same.

The way in which identity becomes an issue is when this thing I call the “Box system” comes into play. In a nutshell, this is how each and every one of us puts each other in a particular box and assumes that that is who they are. People are good at soccer or are super confident or really good-looking suddenly become the ‘cool kids’ because that’s the box that they have been put in. Just because somebody looks good or sounds impressive doesn’t mean that’s most important to them.

Now, I’m not trying to say that being great at sport or good looking is bad. On the contrary, I praise them for being confident in who they are. The problem arises when others begin to frame them as this certain person. This strange movement I’m making is supposed to be drawing border. Its times like this that I really wish I had arms.

Nobody in this gym deserves to be framed. God made us who we are and it is our job as an individual to decide what our passions are and what we will become. I want every one of you to take a moment to think of the person next to you. Do you put a frame around that person as a “cool kid” or as purely lame and/or a weirdo? We must realise that everyone has equal potential to be whatever they desire. It’s like the old saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

However, we must take this a step further. We need to find the identity in others because only then will we truly know who someone is. I learnt about a guy in Year 7 this year. Great guy, quiet and kind […] At some point I discovered that he spoke Turkish […] like they speak in Turkey. I mean, not only is that language hugely uncommon in a place like Australia, but it would take somebody incredibly talented and gifted to learn such a dialect.

The thing is, that’s just one example of one thing that makes him who he is. Plus, he’s just one guy in the whole school…

Over the past few years […] I’ve found more and more that people love talking about themselves. Why wouldn’t they? They’re unique! As a Year 12 leaving you guys this year, I would encourage you all to talk to one another and find their personality, what makes them, them. Show an interest in what makes them happy, even if it not just a hobby. You might be very pleasantly surprised with what you find out about others.

Some of you may be physically strong, whilst others are excellent chess players. Some of you are incredible when it comes to computers. Some of you are hurting. Some of you have really tough stuff to deal with. I know many people who come from different countries and have a story to tell in that regard. Others just like to chat! Some of you are patient, some are proud. Some of you work diligently whilst more of us are procrastinators.

God has created us all equal in his image. Do you know why you are here? Well, it’s on your shirt right now. It’s very important in our school, so important that it is our school motto. Soli deo Gloria is about giving God the credit in everything that we do.

Now that doesn’t mean that every time I walk through a door I shout, “Praise the Lord,” or when I finish writing my exams in a few week’s time, I yell. “Amen” […] Giving glory to God is when we set an example for others to follow. [It is] when others notice, and we tell them what we profess – that Jesus died for our sins so that we can now have eternal life.

The biggest reason that people don’t spread this gospel is because they fear persecution. I understand, and you understand too. Nobody likes being bullied and teased for what they believe. It takes a lot of guts to stand up for your faith in the secular world. Life isn’t easy. I don’t recall any time in the New Testament where God, Jesus or the apostles said anything about life being fine and dandy where everyone eats cotton candy and sits in a circle sing kumbaya.

I know when I die, life won’t be lost. It will be renewed and refreshed, and perfect. I’ll have arms then – something to look forward to! That is why we stand unashamed for what we believe.
We Year 12s are about to begin our next chapters as shining examples in this world […]

I want you to know something. Each of you is special. You have a voice. You can make a difference. You can make a difference in the world. For most of you, school is your current world and takes up most of your time.

So right here, right now in this place … can you open your eyes and see each other for the uniquely gifted people that you are? You don’t know the impact that one conversation can make. So be brave and love each other, for God’s glory alone.

Josiah Kappert

Familiarity breeds Contempt

“Familiarity breeds contempt”. I have always thought that this is a harsh saying. Contempt is a strong word. However, I have also found that there is a lot of truth in this. At the very least, familiarity often leads us to take things for granted. At the very worst, we can ignore or become blind to the things that are right in front of us. It seems like the more we know something, the more we find faults and dislike things about it. Familiarity can stop us from respecting people, and simply dismiss them or their opinions. The Bible has an amazing story to tell on this topic.

Mark 6:1-6 says:

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

We can just as easily fall into the same trap. It is all too easy to become a judge of the Sunday morning service, or the Church, or our College, or to show a lack of respect for those in authority. This lack of respect can easily grow into criticism and even ridicule. We can miss the beauty of the things around us, or the value that they really have. It is interesting to note that when the people of Nazareth allowed their familiarity with Jesus to breed contempt, they lost out and deprived themselves of a great opportunity. The result was that Jesus chose to take His message and His blessings elsewhere!

So what can we do to prevent this from happening?

Give honour to one another

Sometimes we are not very good at giving honour. Even if it is difficult to honour the person, it is always possible to honour the position.

Appreciate what we have

We are amazingly rich in this country and have fantastic opportunities, educationally, economically, socially, and politically. We are in the top 5% of the wealthiest people in the world, just by living in this country. In biblical times, when the rich are referred to, we must remind ourselves that we are those people. The freedom that we enjoy is amazing.

Matt 13;44-46 reminds us:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

We have a pearl of great price. Do we treasure it? Is it a privilege to be the adopted sons and daughters of the King of Kings? When I write this article, is it a chore, or an opportunity to plant a seed for the kingdom. A lot depends on my attitude and how I look at things.

Be grateful

How often do we thank our parents for provision, for the boundaries they put around us, for loving us unconditionally, and for praying for us? Thinking back, I am not sure that I did a lot of this. I took it for granted. How often did I express my feelings and show appreciation, or did I just expect that they knew it in some way? There will come a day when you will no longer be able to do this. And how often do I thank God for the simple things? God is present in all the details of life. He is not just there for the crises. Or do I take each new day, every sunrise or blue sky, my friends and family, my health, or my work and colleagues for granted?

Be quick to apologise when we get it wrong

We are all human, fallible and make mistakes. So why is it so difficult to apologise when we do. As teachers (and parents), we often fall into the trap of being the expert and having all the answers. The truth is that we do our best, but we do get things wrong. Will we lose faith in someone if they get something wrong? Or will we in fact grow in our respect for them if they take responsibility and admit their mistakes? Imagine if politicians acted in this way. We often grow by reflecting on what has gone wrong, and learn to do things in a better way. Isn’t this a way that we learn?

I am blessed to work at Rehoboth Christian College, and to work with a dedicated Staff who strive to do their best for the students. Our students are also amazing. Yes, they are works in progress, but aren’t we all. Students continually surprise me, and I have been doing this for a while. The parents I work with are patient, committed and caring people who want the best for their children. They want the school to be the best that it can be – so do I. I love the fact that we get to work with each other in partnership. We are growing and developing each year and are on a path of continual improvement. Every year, we are planning new things, looking at ways that we can add to our programs, and are excited about the future. At the same time, our purpose is not about size, nor programs nor reputation. It is to make Jesus famous in everything that we do.

2016 NAPLAN Results: Year 7 and Year 9

Rehoboth Christian College Jason on Top of the World (Again)

It is always important to keep NAPLAN results in perspective. They provide useful feedback for teachers, as they indicate the strengths and weaknesses of students and allow them to focus on areas that need improvement. However, NAPLAN results are often used as a ranking tool for individuals or for each school (as on the MySchool website), and here they are less reliable. No matter how good the results are (or the reverse), it must be remembered that NAPLAN results are a snapshot of one type of assessment, on one particular day. Overall student performance is measured by a variety of assessment types, and the extent of school improvement is shown by a variety of different forms of feedback.

Having said that, NAPLAN results are an important external measure, and the data generated allows each school to compare each cohort of students over time, and to examine trends in the data. Our Year 7 and 9 students achieved excellent results in this year’s tests.

Year 9 Results (38 students tested)

The NAPLAN data shows the extent of the improvement of this cohort. The trend is generally above the National trends of improvement, and shows the value-added impact the College is having. Our Year 9s show a steady rate of improvement in all areas, except in Grammar and Punctuation, where the levels achieved in Year 7 were extraordinary. The graphs that illustrate these trends are up on the main Secondary School noticeboard. It terms of the results, Rehoboth’s means significantly exceed both State and National means in all five areas tested, as shown in Table 2, and are excellent results:

Table 1 – Comparison to National Minimum Benchmark
Reading 97% at or above the national minimum benchmark
Writing 97% at or above the national minimum benchmark
Spelling 100% at or above the national minimum benchmark
Grammar 97% at or above the national minimum benchmark
Numeracy 100% at or above the national minimum benchmark

 

Table 2 – Rehoboth Compared to State and National Means
Rehoboth State National
Reading 603 585 581
Writing 581 554 548
Spelling 620 583 580
Grammar 604 573 570
Numeracy 618 594 589

 

Year 7 Results (47 students tested)

The NAPLAN data shows the extent of this cohort’s improvement. The trend is above the National trends of improvement, and shows the value-added impact the College is having, and a consistent rate of improvement in all areas. Spelling, Writing, and Numeracy have shown the greatest rates of improvement. As with the Year 9 results, the graphs that illustrate these trends are up on the main noticeboard. In terms of the results, Rehoboth’s means significantly exceeds both State and National means in all five areas tested, as shown in Table 2, and are excellent results:

Table 3 – Comparison to National Minimum Benchmark
Reading 98% at or above the national minimum benchmark
Writing 96% at or above the national minimum benchmark
Spelling 96% at or above the national minimum benchmark
Grammar 98% at or above the national minimum benchmark
Numeracy 96% at or above the national minimum benchmark

 

Table 4 – Rehoboth Compared to State and National Means
Rehoboth State National
Reading 570 537 541
Writing 530 512 515
Spelling 568 540 543
Grammar 570 537 540
Numeracy 572 548 550

 

Keep Your Heart with All Diligence

The story of the journey that the people of Israel took fleeing from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, crossing the desert, and wandering for 40 years is retold a number of times in the Old Testament. One of the lessons that comes across to me about this story is that these people (who had been in bondage and slavery for 400 years in Egypt) were turned back from their destiny by their negativity. What they focused on determined their future. Even the cloud by day and fire by night were not sufficient for them in the end. The miracles they had seen were soon forgotten. Complaints replaced amazement.

At the end of the journey, 12 spies were sent into the promised land. The evidence for all 12 of the spies was exactly the same, but the conclusions were entirely different. Caleb and Joshua gave a completely different report, though they did not dispute the facts. They saw the same giants, they saw the same walled cities and the things that had to be overcome. But they came to a different conclusion. 10 spies saw the things they couldn’t overcome – Joshua and Caleb knew that PLUS GOD, they had the majority. However, when the people heard the conflicting reports, fear took over and the 10 versus 2 ended up becoming 3 million + 10 versus 2, as the nation of Israel believed the evidence of the 10.

Christian aren’t spared giants and walled cities. Two people can experience exactly the same thing and come to completely different conclusions – it is a choice as to what you will believe. Our attitude is important when it comes to the outcome. And, by the way, the majority aren’t always right. The same crowd that was yelling “Hosanna!” when Jesus entered into Jerusalem were probably the same ones yelling “Barabbas!” and “Crucify him!” days later.

A strange thing about human nature is that once we believe something, we begin to assemble the facts to prove it. We shouldn’t deny the facts (sometimes Christians fall into this trap), but we do need to be careful about what comes out of our mouths.

A good report takes faith into account:

  • It sets you apart from the crowd. Great things are often done by the minority (think of Martin Luther and the start of the Reformation), NOT the majority.
  • It sustains your life. Joshua and Caleb are still standing and raring to go, while all the others died.
  • It keeps you in the will of God. Consider the example of Joseph, who makes the best of every situation, and remarkably is never recorded as complaining.
  • It keeps your mind at peace. All the water in the ocean can’t sink the boat, but only the water that gets in to the boat. The storm outside never destroys as much as the storm inside. Hence, keep (guard) your heart with all diligence (above all), for it is the wellspring of life’ (Proverbs 4:23).
  • It causes our heart to overflow (Psalm 45:1). Our tongues are writing the next chapter of our story. What is coming out of our mouths? With God there is always another conclusion.

Supporting Your Year 12 Student with Stress

During the holidays, I have been thinking about the issue of stress.

Not that stress is unique only to Year 12 students, but Year 12 is full of ups and downs which can be a major source of stress for most students. This reveals itself in a lot of different ways. Small issues can become large ones, as emotions can often be exaggerated during these times. Students can find that interrupted sleep becomes a pattern and they feel tired most of the time, or they procrastinate rather than facing the pressure of multiple deadlines, or they find ways of escaping from the pressure. As stress runs down the immune systems, headaches can become more common, and students can catch whatever illnesses are going around. If there isn’t hope or a plan injected into the situation, depression can result.

Rehoboth Christian College Jason on Top of the World (Again)If it results in action, or a plan to move ahead, stress can be dealt with much more positively. Teenagers need to be listened to at these times, and given the time to talk through their concerns, without being judged. Many Year 12s try to cope by working harder (because this has worked for them before, but this is more difficult in Year 12 due to the volume of work that there is to do). But what happens if working harder does not achieve the improvement that students desire? In researching what we can do, I came across the following article from Beyond Blue, Surviving Year 12, that was addressed to parents, which includes some practical suggestions and advice.

It talks about finding a balance between school and other activities such as sport or music as well as time with family and friends; the benefits of developing a study routine and having a study-friendly home environment; of making time to study; and that exam results aren’t the only thing that determines your future. The article also talks about how to deal with results that weren’t quite what your student hoped for, and do’s and offers lots of don’ts on how parents can help – to which I would pray WITH them and FOR them every day.

More information is available at Beyond Blue or by contacting their Support Service: 1300 22 4636 or email and chat online.

The WOW Moments

In Psalm 77, Asaph is going through a low patch and dealing with stress and disappointment. He is troubled and can’t sleep. He had been the music director who arranged musical scores to the Psalms of David and had been there at the building of David’s kingdom, and at its highest point. His role had continued through the leadership of Solomon, and the start of the unraveling of the nation. Then he held that position when the nation was divided into the northern and southern kingdoms under two different kings. Things hadn’t worked out the way he had expected. It’s no wonder that he spent some time reflecting on the ups and downs he had experienced.

In Psalm 77:1-9 Asaph writes:

I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint. You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked: ‘Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favour again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?

What turns Asaph around? He begins to remember what the Lord has done. He takes his focus off the issues before him and reminds himself of what God had done and who God is. He reminds himself that God is good, that He is powerful, that He has done mighty deeds. Asaph goes on to write, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.”

We all have moments when we are disappointed and disillusioned. This isn’t due to a lack of faith, but sometimes we just can’t see what God is doing (or God is not doing what we would like him to do). Sometimes stuff goes on around us and we can’t see or hear God in that situation. Many Bible stories describe people who make exactly that kind of journey and experience the tough times. Even Jesus struggles in the garden of Gethsemane.

What do we do at these times? We need to acknowledge that God is our Father, and wants the best for his children, but He is not like a “fairy godmother” that magically removes all obstacles that come into our path.

We need to remind ourselves of those incredible WOW moments when we see God’s hand at work.

This can be in God’s faithfulness to us in our past. Or in how He answered prayers that we spoke. Or in the evidence of the miraculous that we may have witnessed. Or by reminding ourselves of the amazing promises in His Word. Or when we witnessed His power and artistry in a sunrise or sunset. In Psalm 7, David writes “You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.”

If we learn to look up at the macro picture, the skies give us a sense of awe and wonder at what God has made. When we look down at the intricate detail of living things we see an intelligent design that blows our minds – if we have eyes to see.

I recall when one of my sons was born at King Edward Hospital, the moment arrived when he was about to be born. I heard in the background the word being passed, and several running steps. Three faces appeared at the side of a curtain. These were three midwives who wanted to be there at the very moment of birth. I looked at their faces, which glowed with excitement. Now I guess they must have seen hundreds of births this way, perhaps more. They were delighted that everything had gone normally. But it was more than this. It occurred to me that they were addicted to this moment because they were witnessing God’s miracle right before their eyes. The shame was that they probably didn’t even realise it was the Creator’s design. They stayed for a few moments while our son was born, congratulated us, and left.

When we think about it, life has lots of WOW moments – if we have eyes to see them. There are lots of things to be thankful for, but we need to remember that we are not God, and He does not do the things that we would plan and do. Often we try to understand God that way, and it doesn’t work because His ways are not like our ways. Let us celebrate the WOW moments, and not beat ourselves up when we think we’re not worthy or that we lack faith. God thinks we are so worthy that He sent Jesus to die for us!

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