"Welcoming" is not the word I would use to describe most high schools. High school can be a harsh place for teenagers trying to figure out who they want to be in the world. If we learned anything from the movie Breakfast Club, it is every student, whether the star of the football team or the star in the classroom and everyone in between, is struggling to find their place of belonging. Unfortunately, social media has exponentially increased the likelihood that a high school student will struggle with feelings of loneliness.
Research has historically shown when students feel like they are a valued part of a school community, their academic performance and sense of well-being are positively impacted. In addition, students with a sense of belonging are more likely to love learning and also less likely to engage in risky behavior.
So how can a school leave cliques behind and become a place of belonging?
Covenant Christian Academy implemented a House System to foster an environment of belonging.
What exactly is a House System?
House Systems originally started in British boarding schools in the 1800s as a way to support and encourage students in their academic and social lives. At CCA, the House System is a method of dividing students into teams to build character and school spirit. The organization gives every student a place to belong and increases interaction between students in different grade levels. A House System also provides a structure for student leadership opportunities and community service.
Upon entering high school at CCA, every student is inducted into one of the following four houses:
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
“He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart…He who does these things shall never be moved.” Psalm 15:2,5
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
The houses compete against each other to win the coveted House of the Year trophy. Houses earn points all year by winning competitions. Teachers also give students house points for demonstrating good character.
Here is what the teachers and students most closely involved in the House System have to say about its value:
As the Dean of Integritas, I have been incredibly proud to see the students in our house step into leadership positions. Amid the bustle and stress of regular school work and life, many students are taking it upon themselves to speak in meetings, volunteer for service projects, and also to create and lead events. This last aspect has been the most impressive to me. When a teenager is able to create an event idea, pull all the details together, and see it through to the end in a way that brings life into our CCA community – that is something irreplaceable that I believe only the CCA House System can provide. Kyle Wilson High School Teacher, Integritas House Dean
Our houses offer the opportunity for kids in different grades to meet each other and work towards a common goal. Elijah Pryor, House Council President
I have led House Council for years now and love helping students learn how to be leaders. I enjoy working with kids in a different setting from my classroom. I have watched them serve selflessly to plan and execute events for the student body. It is a great place to teach life experiences. The House Council group learns how to plan an event from start to finish from budgeting to cleaning up. I have helped them over the years plan fun movie nights and dances, as well as canned food drives and fall festivals for little kids. Watching them interact with our younger kids is a great picture of how they pass on their love for CCA to the next cougars. Carina Covington High School Art Teacher, Aequitas House Dean
Our house system gives kids a place to fit in when they first enter high school. It promotes school unity and encourages kids to get involved in something that isn't sports or fine arts. Paige Hudson, House Council Vice President
When I was in high school, we were fairly siloed in our grades. I knew my class well but did not know many others in the grades above or below. Having the House System at CCA replaces grade-level isolation with a school-wide community. When I see a senior walking down the hall with a freshman, talking about an upcoming event, or encouraging each other to earn more points, I count myself lucky that I get to be a part of a system that not only promotes but actually lives like family. Kyle Wilson High School Teacher, Integritas House Dean
I was in house council leadership for 3 of my 4 years in high school. In my senior year I was house council president. Being a leader in the house system for most of my time in rhetoric school taught me the value of servant leadership. Excellent leaders maintain a heart of service and humility. Being house council President taught me how to manage a team well. Every house council member had different ideas and opinions, but we came together as a unit to come to a compromise. It also taught me how to take a vision from the idea stage to execution. Bailee Hale , CCA Alum
I love seeing the House Council representatives bring their ideas to life and organize events for their classmates. Students put together each event that House Council holds. It is amazing the tasks that each takes on based on their personality and talents. As a Dean, I most enjoy seeing the fruit of their hard work, which is usually students of all ages having fun because of the time and effort put in by our council members. Teddi Miller High School Teacher and Coach Fidelitas House Dean
Children spend over 1,200 hours a year in school for most of their childhood. It is crucial for parents to choose a school where children spend those hours feeling a sense of belonging and value. Visiting our CCA campus is a perfect opportunity to experience the CCA environment. Schedule your visit here.