Wakefield Forest ES Creates “House” System for Students

By Julia Ruskin
September 24, 2019

sorting ceremonyWe all fondly remember the famous sorting hat scene from the Harry Potter series.  At Wakefield Forest Elementary, sixth grade students recently experienced a similar ceremony.  As an extension of the Positivity Project program, the sixth grade team has created a “house” system for their students, based on Positivity Project character strengths and designed to encourage collaboration, new friendships, and positive behavior.  

The houses, each sponsored by a sixth grade teacher, are:

  • Aquila (teamwork, fairness, leadership, forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-control)
  • Leopaux (enthusiasm, bravery, integrity, perseverance)
  • Sciomar (creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective)
  • Ubuntu (kindness, love, social intelligence)
  • Volare (appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, optimism, humor, purpose)

At the sorting ceremony, sixth grade students randomly picked cards out of the house cup to determine which house they would belong to for the entire school year.  Throughout the year, houses will be rewarded points for individual and group positive behavior, most often documented by the Wolf Tickets they receive (part of Wakefield Forest’s Positive Behavior Approach (PBA) Program).  At the end of the year, the house with the most points will take possession of the coveted house cup.  The students have already created house chants, cheers, and dances, and engaged in athletic competitions, such as a frisbee toss, 50-meter dash, and long jump; an inter-house kickball tournament is in the works.  Future activities include brain games, tests of perseverance, and opportunities to extend the Positivity Project’s core values into the community.

Students are enthusiastic about the house initiative.  “It’s a way of doing good things but also being competitive and showing spirit,” one sixth grader said.  “I like that it’s getting positive reinforcement in a fun and pleasant way,” another added. The students all agree that they are happy to have made new friends who aren’t in their homeroom classes. 

The sixth grade staff -- Michelle Brooks, Susan Ely, Allison Friedsam, Andy Impens, and Alicia Stahl – are equally excited about the program. They say, “As a team, we wanted to create opportunities to build meaningful relationships with all of our students. Within our houses, we teach the Positivity Project lessons and engage in thought-provoking conversations with students. It also allows us to demonstrate what healthy competition looks like. We couldn’t be more thrilled with our students’ enthusiasm and their commitment to contributing to the greater good!”