‘Houses’ Established at Holy Family School
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
August 24, 2017

ROCKFORD—At an Aug. 17 “House Assembly” in the Holy Family School gymnasium, students, teachers and staff gained new connections to the saints.

Called “Seven Houses...One Family,” the new program assigned students and teachers to various “houses” named for particular religious orders — Augustinians, Benedictines, Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans and Jesuits — which were also identified by color.

Those assigned to the Jesuit House, for example, received orange t-shirts and gathered under an orange balloon as their names were called.

Preschool students and parish and school staff are members of the Angel House. When the preschoolers enter kindergarten, they will be “adopted” into the other houses. Their shirts are multi-colored.

Elementary students and teachers will remain members of their house throughout their years at Holy Family School.

Each house contains three “families” within it. Those families will consist of smaller groups of students of about the same age to allow teachers and students to take part in age-appropriate activities.

With the exception of preschoolers, siblings are members of the same house.

There also will be whole house activities, such as a dodgeball game each newly-established household played outside after students and teachers gathered together under the brightly-colored posters of religious order crests that identify each house.

The system was called an “exciting new adventure” by Principal Corine Gendron as she introduced the idea before calling students’ names, grade by grade, to come forth and receive a bag from their new house. Each contained a t-shirt and bracelet.

“You are already a part of the school community and of your class,” Gendron explained. Each house also connects them to saints of the Church who, she said, “will become your patron saints” during their years at Holy Family.

Events for the houses will include opportunities to pray together, Gendron said, and students will be able to earn points for their houses through activities.

Committees are working to plan those activities, to work on Catholic identity ideas and develop other potential facets of the system.

Students and staff will wear their house t-shirts on regularly-designated days each month. The plan is to build relationships and bonds between grade levels within each house, and to foster partnerships between students’ families and the school.

Gendron got the idea from a session at the National Catholic Educational Association Convention a couple of years ago, she says.

“It’s actually based on the house systems that English boarding schools developed in the past 200 years or so,” she says.

A quick search online shows that the idea is more often found at high schools. But elementary and middle schools, including Catholic schools, as well as some colleges, also incorporate the house system into their structures.