The Middle School House program originated from our Cavs Helping and Mentoring Peers (CHAMPS) program that started in 2013.
Each week students would gather in multi grade groupings and play games, study together, or discuss moral and ethical issues that affect them both academically and socially. Older students were put in leadership roles as they discussed with younger students. As games were played, students practiced positive sportsmanship, and simply had fun together. These CHAMPS groupings became another family, similar to Advisory.
Then, an idea emerged: Could we expand these groupings and begin a House program? After visiting with high school students and faculty, it was clear that if we could transition the CHAMPS program into a House system, we would be able to sustain a high level of school spirit throughout the year, put more of our students in leadership roles, and continue to make service a key component of our middle school division.
In the initial planning stages, six faculty were approached and asked to consider taking on a leadership role within one of the six houses, as House Leaders. After hearing the mission and a few examples of the activities, each of the six faculty members enthusiastically agreed. Very shortly after that, the six House Leaders met with the Middle School Dean and brainstormed names that each House would identify with. After some careful thought, three themes emerged. We wanted to represent our city, celebrate the beauty of our surroundings, and make a difference in our community.
We decided to name our Houses after our three major rivers (Maumee, St. Joe, St. Mary’s) and three of our local parks (Headwaters, Rockhill, Foster).
As we neared our final meetings as a faculty, we presented the idea to the entire faculty. The Middle School Faculty were assigned to one of the six Houses, and soon students were assigned a particular House. There was an immediate buzz and excitement. These groups of 4-5 teachers had time to gather and discuss what key words they specifically would identify with. This began to give each House its own identity. Teachers were discussing service projects and how they could impact their river or park.
As we entered August, meetings were taking place brainstorming old camp games we played when we were kids, corporate team building activities that our spouses and friends have enjoyed, even challenges from the reality show “Survivor.” We wanted to get our kids excited and very quickly realized our teachers were getting pumped up too!
Our Houses meet every Thursday for 25 minutes in the morning. Each week brings a new activity. We play games focused on teamwork, there are CHAMPs moral and ethical discussions, a House flag is worked on, and Houses plan their service projects. In order to maintain a high level of spirit, we kicked the year off with a Fall Games. Most schools wait till the end of the year to do this, but we wanted to launch the school year with fun. We will have a Winter Games and Spring Games as well.
Houses earn points during the games by completing activities, having the fastest time on activities, as well as earning sportsmanship points. Students are also given further point building opportunities by scheduling special “Point Nights” at middle school events and high school events.
The Houses are certainly a work in progress. Service, spirit, and leadership will be practiced and enjoyed all year long…along with a little healthy competition.