School ‘houses’ spark teamwork, leadership

Laurel School District  |  Posted on

Laurel Middle School is committed to meeting the academic, social, and emotion needs of grade 7-8 students. To achieve these goals, a house system continues to be implemented. The purpose of the house culture is to instill teamwork, friendship, cooperation and leadership into the middle school community. The house system also offers a supportive transition from our elementary for incoming seventh graders and builds a team and competitive spirit among our middle school students. Students are randomly divided into six groups, referred to as “houses.” Houses are based on mythological characters in Ancient Greek culture. The houses, named after Greek mythological creatures, are a nod to our Spartan connections. Additionally, teacher mentors are randomly assigned a house.

Once a student joins the house, he or she remains in that house throughout middle school. Houses compete in both academic and athletic challenges, as well as in other competitions. A very important component of our house system is a service learning project. While competition amongst houses is an integral part of the process, our staff’s goal is to build a more supportive, engaging, responsible and socially aware learning environment at Laurel Middle School. Eighth graders Mara Bartley of Pegasus House, and Tyler Shearer of Sphinx House, agreed that being a part of a house is a good way to get to know classmates they are not typically around. Tyler added that it “helps you work on your social skills” and “we are teammates.”

Because of pandemic restrictions, house events were limited this year, but activities and competitions were implemented in the spring. Activities included a house reveal event for the seventh graders and an end-of-the-year recognition and field day for all students. Middle school students also concluded the year with their service project, a community work day where students cleaned up the buildings and grounds on the Laurel campus. On May 27, students spend time cleaning the press box, trimming bushes, weeding, sweeping dugouts, and more. Tyler and Mara shared that the service day teaches students responsibility for the future and “what you need to get done and keep on top of.” The afternoon concluded with house team competitions like timed dance competition where students danced until they could knock ping pong balls out of an empty tissue box strapped to their backs. Students then enjoyed a movie and snacks to celebrate the year’s end. Throughout the spring, students in each house could also earn tickets for being kind, safe, or responsible and for meeting attendance and grade goals. The house with the most tickets and points earned a house luncheon during the last week of school. The middle school staff plans to start off next year by reestablishing the full house environment created early last school year.

This article was printed in the Laurel School District Spring Newsletter.