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From the Director's Desk: Our House System

Dear friends of St. Timothy's, There has been a buzz around the school over the last few months which culminates every Friday morning before chapel. This is when the weekly totals of House Points are announced. When I started as school Director in the Fall, I was saddened that although we recite scripture passages every day in chapel, it was only the faithful few students who seemed to be committing these to memory. Similarly with our "Virtues of the Month", the students had a talk each month, and the teachers tried to highlight these virtues over this time, but how was it that students might be encouraged to better digest their meanings and live them out? Growing up in England, I witnessed and was part of something that is an important element of school life in many very ordinary schools (not just in "Hogwarts"!): a House System. Historically this started when children were sent away to be educated, and although lessons would be all together, students would live, eat and relax in individual "houses". These houses developed their own characteristics, and allowed a bigger school to still have a family feel to it as students of all ages congregated in the same house. It allowed the development of a positive reward system for excellence in various fields from academics to arts, to sports or character, and provided teams for school wide competitions. The appointing of House Captains allowed students a safe environment in which to learn leadership skills.

I thought all of the above would definitely benefit St. Tim's, and as a classical school, a house system might spark our students' imaginations and give them a sense of being part of a tradition which might outlast their graduation. However, the main reason that I was keen to introduce this to St. Tim's was to encourage our students to learn their scripture passages and pursue Christian virtue.

After some consultation and advice from others, plus some excellent suggestions of names from our parents, our house system was launched at the beginning of 2018. With our beautiful new school logo depicting an olive sapling, we continued with this theme of tress for our house names. Oak, Cedar, Olive, and Palm all feature heavily in the bible. They each are associated with strong imagery and depict positive characteristics of the people of God; from the magnificent, precious and useful Cedars of Lebanon to the strength, beauty, peace, and productivity of the Olives; from the fortitude, endurance, and deep rootedness of the Oaks to the uprightness, flexibility, fruitfulness, and durability of the Palms. So how has St. Tim's been affected by these new houses? The first observable change was the enthusiasm for learning scripture. Almost every recess there is a flurry of students in the office happily reciting to be rewarded by house points. Our new House Captains exhibited early initiative by requesting a House Colours Day for charity. They collaboratively chose where the funds would be donated and then motivated their houses to faithfully bring in their generous donations from their pocket money. Although the suggested contribution was tiny, the students showed their true colours by doubling the expected total. Well done! We look forward to seeing how these budding leaders are able to motivate their houses for the skip-a-thon in May. Another highlight for many students has been our House Lunches followed by challenges. These allow students the time to develop friendships outside their own grades and the tasks have been designed so that houses showing the best teamwork generally enjoy success. Our humble school yard has been transformed into a "frozen lake" and an "unstable glacier", and students of all ages have had to work together to overcome these obstacles.

Although our House System has started simply, it seems to be achieving its original purpose, plus showing other distinct benefits. Who knows that it will look like in ten years time, but we are grateful for the wisdom of some learned old schoolmasters from the other side of the Atlantic for our new tradition.

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