What is a House System?
House systems are not new, but are rapidly growing in popularity in a variety of school settings. You see them in all levels of schools, and all types. But what are they, where do they come from, and how can they help the culture of your school?
Houses originated in English boarding schools . The original goal was to provide smaller groups in which culture and family groups could grow and be cultivated.
Today House systems serve a similar purpose. At our school, each student is sorted upon arrival to our school with great fanfare and excitement. All students are sorted randomly, but students with an older sibling already in a house (we call these ‘legacies’) can choose to remain together.
Each of our houses at Winston Salem Christian has a color and a crest and a mission. Our houses each have a unique name with a meaning. We take our house names from Matthew 22:35, the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength.”
Our first house is called Kardia, Greek for Heart. This house has the color red as its theme and a panther as its animal. Cats, specifically panthers are passionate animals. Our second is Dianoia, which is the Greek work for mind, and is our blue house. Their animal wise dragon, which is a nod to their support of the mind and wisdom. The third house is Pnuema, which comes from the Greek word for soul, and their color is yellow. Their animal is the nighthawk, a nod to the past mascot of our high school prior to our school name change. Birds often are a representation of spirit, a nod also to their name. Our last (but certainly not least) house is Dunamis. Their color is green and their animal is the wolf, who thrive through strength of numbers, which is where they get their name- Greek for strength. As you can see we take the symbolism of our names and colors seriously and strive to model these characteristics in our behavior and characterization of our houses.
What do these houses do?
These houses are the students’ family within the school. They compete together, work together and serve together. Each house earns and loses points based on their triumphs and struggles. Houses rotate weekly cleaning duties and plan events and activities as a group. Our students will each lunch with their house once a week beginning this year and this extended lunch time serves as a social time, as well as an opportunity for planning and announcements.
Each house is also partnered with a community non-profit to provide opportunities for students to serve their wider community. This opportunity allows our students to learn about a non-profit in depth, as they will be partnered with that non-profit throughout their years at Winston Salem Christian.
Our houses provide students a small community within the larger community and allow students to form bonds with students they might not otherwise interact with. At our school, students belong to something from day one.
House also provides an opportunity for students to grow in their leadership skills. Each house is paired with a Lower School teacher (or two!) and they serve in that teacher’s classroom throughout the year. Upperclassmen have the opportunity to serve as leaders within their house, teaching and mentoring their peers. This system also serves as our student government and students have many opportunities throughout the year to build their leadership skills.
Being a part of a house increases excitement about school. Studies show that excitement about school improves student performance. We take house seriously and it is a HUGE part of the culture that we build through our school. House serves as the avenue for team building, tradition building and serves as a connecting point for our alumni. We sort students into their house on the first day and from that moment we teach them what it means to be a part of that house and family! If you are interested we’d love to have our families hang around on the first day of school to see the house sorting. It’s a really fun event in the life of our student body. See you in August!