History of the House Program
In April 2012, the entire faculty and administration of St. Bernadette School in Northboro attended the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) Conference, which was held in Boston. Middle school teachers and school administrators went into the conference looking for ideas on how to differentiate the SBS Middle School students from the Pre-K through grade 5 students so that they could have a sense of pride and ownership – as well as something to look forward to as they moved up in grades. Also, with the upcoming Year of Faith, they were also looking for ways for our Middle School students to look more closely at their faith and how to better serve their school and others in their community.
Many of the sessions that the teachers and administration attended at NCEA were very influential in developing a program that would fit our students’ needs. After much discussion, the idea to develop a House System for grades 6-8 at St. Bernadette School was born during the 2012-13 school year. A House System is typically designed to connect students both within and across grades via a common identity, cause and activity. It is also seen as a way to reduce bullying within schools and to create a sense of camaraderie, friendship, and ownership.
How the Houses are Formed
At the beginning of each school year, students in grades 6-8 are divided into five houses of approximately 25 students each with one faculty advisor. The students are then given ownership of their house and are asked to write a mission statement, select a Patron Saint, and design a shield. Each house also has its own color and each vote on a name. The faculty selected the Leaders and Co-Leaders of each house to correlate directly with those students who attended the “Stand Up, Speak Out “ Leadership Conference led by Boston College and hosted by Assumption College. In future years, the leaders will be elected by each house, giving them a further sense of ownership. Each of these elements is prominently displayed on a large bulletin board in the Middle School hallway.
The houses meet every Friday and discuss goals for the house, and plan for different community and outreach projects. One of the most successful Outreach projects that they led for the school during the 2012-13 school year was a food drive to celebrate World Food Day. They worked together to create a competition between all grades in the school and collected 1,800 items for local food pantries. The different houses also worked one on one with the younger children in the school on a project called “Valentines for Veterans” where they visited the younger grade classrooms and assisted the children in making Valentines for local Vets. Most recently, one of the Houses was called upon by a 5th grade Science teacher to visit the classroom and assist the students with a difficult science experiment. This provided a unique mentoring opportunity for the Middle School students and an opportunity for them to give back to their school. It also showcases them as the leaders of the school – someone for the younger grades to admire and look up to.
“The House system is amazing. It helps me interact with many different students at various grade levels. It also involves team building and student interaction. I think the House system was a great idea to have for the Middle School students.” – Emily D., Grade 8
“To me, the House System at St. Bernadette’s is the ideal time for any student – from outgoing to sociable to shy to dreamy – to express their opinions and share their God-given talents.” – Daviana P., Grade 7
“The House System allows students to get to know each other as well as to serve the community. It also provides an opportunity for students to lead not only their peers, but also younger students. Students get to know each other better and they build trust in one another.” – Ryan B.
“The St. Bernadette House System is a great bonding experience for the Middle School. It helps us build both teamwork and leadership skills that we can take wherever we go. It is also a great way to form friendships between different grade levels. In most schools, different grade levels barely talk with each other, but with the House System here, we are different!” – Priyanka M.