St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School has recently started something different and amazing. The staff and students in the 7-12 High School have divided themselves into five different “Houses” as a way to create a school culture built on a strong sense of community, school-spirit, and friendly competition.
Staff and students alike compete in House competitions throughout the school year and accumulate House Points in an attempt to win the Den Cup – a greatly coveted trophy. This year, staff and students have already competed in two school-spirit competitions, and already, several Houses are neck-in-neck.
According to Alex Cimino, St, Benedict graduate, “The Houses are a way to rejuvenate the spirit at St. Benedict that was once lost. It’s a legacy project that we are very proud of.”
House names were chosen from various languages and all reference the school’s Team Name and Mascot, the Bear. Each House is also associated with a particular trait and colour:
- Ursa: Latin and associated with Truth, Justice and the colour blue.
- Lawe: Polynesian and associated with Respect and the colour orange.
- Karhu: Fin and associated with Bravery and the colour red.
- Mkwaa: Aanishnawbe, and associated with Wisdom and the colour yellow.
- Oso: Spanish, and associated with Humility and the colour green.
The House System initially kicked-off in February of 2017 when staff and students were first sorted into the various Houses. The planning committee, made up of various staff members and students, decided that dividing the physical space of the school into the five Houses, and comprising each House with a mix of students would provide the greatest opportunities for peer mentorship, and as a way to “better grow [the] school community,” according to Benjamin Rain, another Grade 12 student leader of Mkwaa.
The Grades 7 and 8 students form Ursa on the Elementary section of the school, and the remaining four Houses each occupy a different section of the Secondary section. All students within a particular House have their lockers in the hallways that are allocated to their House.
“It is a way to forge stronger community ties between the grades and to create mentorship opportunities between the junior and senior students. We are really excited to see who wins the House Cup this year and how students work together to win the different competitions,” said Kelly Dowdall, Teacher and member of Karhu.
There are also leadership opportunities for students within the House System. Four Student House Leaders were chosen by staff for each House. House Leaders are responsible for communicating with their Houses through the House Bulletin Board as well as through Social Media, and for rallying students in their Houses over the course of the school year.
Laura Kuzenko, Principal at St. Benedict added that, “House Leaders help plan and execute the various House events and competitions. We are very impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of our House Leaders last year and this year. I am also excited by how the House System has sparked a friendly competitiveness among the staff.”
Overall, the House System seems to be a welcome addition to the school culture at St. Benedict. The inaugural House Cup went to Ursa last year, and at this point, it is anyone’s guess who will win the House Cup this year.