The student voice of St. George's Independent School.

The Lodge

The student voice of St. George's Independent School.

The Lodge

The student voice of St. George's Independent School.

The Lodge

Restoring the House System

Finding the foundation of a keystone Gryphon initiative
Photo: Livi VanSteenberg
Members of House Cypress pose to show their camaraderie at the November 10, 2023, capture the flag house event on the Collierville Campus. Cypress won the most recent house competition and have been allowed to wear their house shirts on formal dress days during their reign.

Since 2018, the house system has been a part of the St. George’s upper school that encourages community and fun competition.

In previous years, house competitions have been organized by a faculty Director of Student Life. This year, the competitions are organized by members of the St. George’s faculty who are willing to devote their time to providing a good house experience to students.

“Without a student life leader, the faculty are really stepping up,” explained Ms. Emmy McClain, Collierville Campus Director. “[They’re] taking on little parts of things so that we can still deliver these opportunities for students. . . I enjoy student life, so it doesn’t feel like a job to me.”

In addition to the large events involving challenges for students to compete in (such as capture the flag from this past November’s house events), the school is also presenting the houses with smaller-scale challenges.

“We also hope that students start to buy into the smaller challenges, like the one that we did that was the number of missing assignments,” Ms. McClain noted. “We did that intentionally to benefit students because we hope that you turn in your work, so you can get every point that you can get, which only does good things for you.”

Due to the pandemic, the school put the house system on pause for a time, and some ideas (such as student leaders and house items available in the spirit shop) never became reality. Now the school is working to recover the initial scope and values of the house system.

Senior and student body president Kewan Randolph is optimistic about the house system’s success among the students.

“I think it’s serving its purpose because on [house] days, you get to be a more knit community and hang out with people from other grades if that’s not something that you do already,” explained Randolph. “It’s just a day to have fun. . . [and] I think that encourages students to work harder because they get to [wear] their t-shirt on formal dress days.”

Freshman Autumn Phothirath agreed that the house system is effective at encouraging interaction between students of different grades.

“I think it’s a great way to unify people from different grades,” explained Phothirath. “I have met more people from different grades besides my own and have made acquaintances or friends with them.”

One new thing that the house system is trying is giving students more choice about which activities they pursue on house days. The most recent house day offered can-struction, capture the flag and deck the dens as options.

“I think anytime you can give students options [is ideal],” noted Mr. Smith Ferguson, Director of Student Connections. “Rather than saying, ‘alright, we’re all doing this one thing,’ give an option so students can really buy in and have some fun with what they like to do.”

Additionally, Mr. Ferguson stressed the value of community within the houses, going as far as referring to them as families, which often comes about when members work together to complete a challenge.

“Doing things that can bring house families together, with the challenges and competitions… [bring] the grades closer together,” Mr. Ferguson explained.

Recently it was announced that the next house day will be the revival of the school’s Polar Plunge, a tradition that has been dormant for nearly a decade in which students and faculty members jump into one of the Collierville campus’s bodies of water in the winter months.

House points will be awarded for participating in the house day by cheering on peers, wearing themed outfits and, of course, plunging. Permission forms to plunge have been sent to the student body by Ms. Leanne Ricketson via email, and will be taken up during upper school lunch (12:30-1:20 p.m.) on the day of the plunge, this Friday, February 2.

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