House System Overview

History and Background

Students at an English preparatory school.

When we hear of School Houses, we often think of a fairly famous series of books and movies involving magic, but the tradition actually goes back hundreds of years.  House systems arose in British boarding schools in the 1700s in order to care for the needs of students, who were often away from home.  The primary goal of these Houses (which began as literal houses, or dormitories) was to provide support for students in terms of personal connections, spiritual or pastoral needs, and general well-being.

Students experienced belonging to a team larger than themselves, both through friendships and friendly competition, and competition was an important secondary goal of the House System.  Our Houses will compete in a number of ways that will nurture the overall growth of students, with the goal of winning the House Cup. 


House Membership

Students are sorted into one of our four Houses (Aquinas, Seton, Newman, and Kateri) impartially, with the goal of even distribution of students, between grade levels, French Immersion and English, Sports for Life, and Performing Arts.  Once they were sorted into their Houses, students remain in that House for their time with us.  The only allowance we make, by tradition, is that siblings are sorted into the same House.  So, every classroom should have a fairly even distribution of students from each.

Students are encouraged to be part of the life of their House, but participation is ultimately voluntary.  Beyond the bare fact of belonging to a House, no student must participate.

Every teacher will also belong to a House.  The Principal and Support Staff (EAs, Custodians, and Secretary) will not belong to any single House.


House Structure

In addition to 1/4 of the student population, each House has a leadership structure.  This involves both staff and students, and it is the student leadership within the House system that fulfills the school need for that kind of energy and initiative.  House Leaders are as follows:

1) Head of House:  this is a member of the teacher faculty who will assist with coordination of House activities.

2) Senior Prefect:  this the senior student leader for his/her House.  The Senior Prefect is a Grade 8 student of strong character, both as a leader and as a representative on the House Council.  Prefects are selected after an application process.

3) Junior Prefect:  this the second student leader for his/her House.  The Junior Prefect is a Grade 7 student of strong character, both as a leader and as a representative on the House Council.  Prefects are selected after an application process.

4) House Ambassador: this a motivational leader/rabble-rouser for his/her House.  The House Captain comes from any grade, should have a strong sense of team spirit, and is selected by a student election within his/her House.

The Head of House, the Prefects, and the Ambassador provide leadership and coordination for the remaining students in the House.  They also join the leadership from all other houses to form the House Council, which serves in much the same capacity (and more) as a traditional student exec.



The House Cup

Each House, and all of its members, will compete for the annual prize of the House Cup.  This is prestigious, and students get bragging rights for the next year.  In addition to the actual House Cup, the winning House will get to fly their banner in the gym for the next year.  In a spirit of very friendly competition, students earn points for their House through the following:

  1. Individual points awarded for acts of high kindness, linked to our EBS (Effective Behaviour Supports) System.  These replace our Tiger Pride Coupons.

  2. Individual points awarded for going above and beyond in speaking French, for our Immersion students.  These replace our Parler Français coupons.

  3. Larger House competitions, like participation in Spirit Days, charity drives, etc.

  4. School based Athletic, Academic, Arts, or Character Awards.