A house system: it may sound like Harry Potter fiction, but for St. Dominic High School, it's an exciting reality.
St. Dominic's new house system is a strategic initiative that connects students across all grade levels. The six houses provide a structure for student life activities, with houses engaging in friendly competition to win "house points." Beyond fun and games, its true purpose is to strengthen the St. Dominic community at a deeper level.
"So often, students have a tendency to only connect with others in their grade or sport or activity," explained assistant principal for student life Nikki Schuler. "The house system allows us to break down some of those natural barriers and bring students together who might not normally have a connection."
A team of 12 senior "Heads of House" worked throughout the year to establish the new program, revealing the houses to the St. Dominic community on February 20.
"It was amazing to work with the students to build the house system and to watch them as they became more engaged," said English teacher Noah Duncan, who mentored the seniors alongside Schuler and computer science teacher Kristy Hagan.
"This community was already strong," Duncan said, "and it will be that much stronger as the house system takes root in our students, employees, and everyone who is a part of the St. Dominic tradition.
"Families" are the foundation of the house system, providing each student with a reliable, personal connection with a core group of peers and adults each school day.
Each family includes students from all four grades, as well as one or two adult mentors - including faculty and professional staff from across the school.
Each school day includes 15 minutes of "Family Time," in which families meet for team building, conversation and more. Some 2019-20 highlights include:
- Uniting in Prayer: One student represented each family in the 2020 Catholic Schools Week All-School Mass procession. Additionally, each family led morning prayer on the PA system.
- Survey Says: Families faced off in a Family Feud tournament, with the Hayes/Zuroweste family winning the championship in a St. Dominic-themed final round.
- Penny Wars: Students pooled their change to raise $4,792.08 for the American Heart Association as Penny Wars returned to St. Dominic. All six houses enthusiastically rose to the challenge, with Virtus finishing atop the leaderboard.