Alright, so even if we aren’t saying it, many of us are thinking it. The House system is stupid and confusing, why do we even have to do that? The old way was so much easier! But really, how much better was it? I know the House system isn’t completely organized right now, and it’s far from a fully implemented system, but was the old system any better? Meetings multiple days a week, sometimes every day? Trips up to Temple, being herded into an area for all of us – that’s not exactly an ideal system either. But mostly, I think that the biggest difficulty was that everything done in the old system was separated by grade. Obviously that’s a good thing at times, but as a whole can we honestly say we have gotten to know the other grades? We are a school, one strong student body. The House system was made to bring everyone together: freshmen and juniors, sophomores and seniors, and freshmen and seniors! The whole point of wearing red and black on school spirit daysis to feel like we are a part of something bigger. We can be a group of individuals. Yes, each student is talented, expressive and successful. But we can also be a unified whole, individually exceptionally strong, but together – overpowering. Some have brought up the complaint that the House system conflicts with Seattle Academy’s focus on the individual. I think the House system is just another legitimate way to cultivate greatness in individuals. Think about this, if I were going to build a house, what’s the first thing I want to make sure my house is stable and functional? The foundation, because without that, my house will never last. If there is a crack in my foundation, I have a problem. It may go a couple months, maybe even a couple years without showing the damage. But inevitably, that crack will come back to bite me, and my house will suffer because of it. In theory, the system should give each individual a strong base to launch from: a supportive network of students.
Okay, maybe it’s a silly analogy, but it makes sense doesn’t it? The nature of Seattle Academy encourages us to be valuable individuals, like a nice house. We are encouraged to try new things and be risk takers. To do this, it is necessary to have a firm foundation supporting us. Of course we are not going to succeed every time; it’s just not realistic. But having a group of people that we know will support us can take the edge off of the disappointment, can’t it? In theory that is what the House system is supposed to give us. If we don’t let ourselves despair at maybe not succeeding like we’d hope, we will not get as discouraged, and will still be open to trying new things. On the other hand, we can be too discouraged by failure and let that fear of messing up paralyze us. In this way, the House system actually really supports the Seattle Academy message of becoming an individual while being a part of the larger community.
I know some of us are concerned that because of the House system, we can’t be separated by grade from time to time. It has already been argued that because of the House system, traditions like Spirit Week have been compromised. But this doesn’t mean there will be no opportunities in the future for us to connect with our grades. Just because we have a new system that is characterized by the mingling of grades doesn’t mean nothing will ever be done at the grade level. The freshmen still had their Freshmen Night and the seniors will still have their Alaska trip in the spring.
There are endless opportunities for SAAS students to connect with their grade. The House system doesn’t subtract from those opportunities – it adds to them. Separate grade levels are still able to get information that applies only to them. With the old advisory system, if you wanted to get the information that applied to your grade that week, it meant filing into the Orvis Theater, tripping over countless backpacks trying to find a seat, and sitting, anxiously wishing you were studying for that vocab test next block instead of listening to your ASB try to get everyone to be quiet. With the House system, all this information is delivered to us in an email. No crowded Orvis Theater once a week, no tripping over backpacks, no more F’s on vocab quizzes.
Some people may read this and discard it as just one of those cheesy movie speeches the hero makes when he’s trying to rally his friends around him when all hope is lost and they have to come together and defeat the darkness or the opposing football team or whatever it is. There is a reason there are scenes like that in movies. It’s because that’s what humans strive to be: strong individuals but an even stronger group. We want to feel like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, even bigger than our grades. We can’t be a cohesive group if the only people we see in the school are the ones in our grades. We also cannot let being a strong group overshadow the importance of being an individual. If we are not strong, versatile, and independent individuals, we are not accomplishing our goal and we also aren’t helping our group.
The House system is undoubtedly a good thing that people that are criticizing because they haven’t even seen it in action. It will give us inter-grade relationships, therefore making us a more cohesive school. The system will also give us a strong foundation to branch off of, helping to support Seattle Academy’s aim to bring out the best of each individual. Even better, I do not believe it means there is no hope for certain events to be done by grade level. That first day that we all got together…do you remember the competitions? Do you remember the people we cheered for, the charades, something we all worked together towards? As a group we worked to guess all those words because we were all acting together, all trying to achieve a particular goal. I think that while we haven’t seen the House system in action for long, we must first let it be seen before we begin to judge. So the next time you go to a House meeting, just try to be open -minded and watch out for the good parts of the system. What you see, may just surprise you.