Last Friday, Belle Heth Elementary held meetings for its four Houses: Compassion, Grit, Tenacious and Visionary.
Each House had its own separate meeting location, and students and staff quickly gathered for discussions, creativity and community building.
Based on “Harry Potter’s” Hogwarts School, each house has unique colors, chants, symbols, etc.
For Grit, the color is orange, its symbol is a dragon, and its chant is: “G-R-I-T, this is what I have in me.”
The students know it by heart, and the Grit teacher leaders for that day, Kayla Angle and Holly Billings, used the chant as a quick way to get the attention of the students after an activity.
The Grit House students also voted on and chose a new motto: “We are the fire that lights up the world!”
The Grit house students also practiced a new song. It began and ended with their chant and in between went like this:
G—Grit: I persevere. I’m tough and strong.
R—Respect: Myself, my friends and my community.
I—Integrity: I do the right thing, which is honesty.
T—Teamwork: I collaborate and communicate.
Here are the other House colors: Visionary—purple, Compassion—red and Tenacious—blue.
The Houses focus on specific characteristics associated with their dominant trait: Compassion—kindness, friendliness and friendship; Grit—fierce, brave and courageous; Visionary—leaders, innovators and enterprising; Tenacious—determined, loyal and persistent.
However, a common theme among all of them is a focus on positive behaviors such as striving to be their best, being respectful, being kind, being responsible and being safe.
During their meeting, Tenacious House students worked in small groups with teacher leaders discussing the question, “How can you be tenacious?”
The Compassion House was working in groups on creating a special chant during their meeting.
Two students, Mia Leahy in sixth grade and Blen Ashenafi in fifth grade worked together on one that references a cheerleading chant that includes “whoopsies” and beating the other team, but they changed it to focusing on “great love and kindness.” Blen got to share it with the group.
Alex Bernathy and Erin Dove had a good understanding of Grit.
“Grit means to me to be strong, courageous and [to] be friendly to everyone…and it includes everyone in the school now, so we’ll all have friends in different grades so we won’t be lonely when we do stuff,” Bernathy said.
“We’re fearless. We can do anything. We’re determined, and I want to make friends in other grade levels,” Dove said.
They demonstrated the type of school-wide friendship/community building that the program hopes to achieve.
Christian Hixson had a keen perception of Compassion: It’s “love, kindness, and respectful,” he said
Lynzi Price and Annika Meeks are third graders in the same House as Principal Tara Grant—Visionary. Lynzi said Visionary meant, “Being kind, sweet, and respectful.” Annika agreed that Visionary means being able to see where you want to go.
“Visionary means being a leader, being a change maker, making decisions for the good of the school. We’re creative and enterprising. So [with] Visionary we want them to think that they are doing good things for all of their friends in school, their teachers, and future Bobcats as well,” Grant said.
Another big part of the program is choosing a community service project each month. Houses had a friendly competition which ended after press time to see which one could bring in the most food items for the Bobcat Backpack program to earn special points.
In November, the service project will be writing special letters to the police, fire and rescue personnel, city workers and school helpers.
The Belle Heth House project is bringing students together to build a strong school community. At the same time, the students are learning about character traits that will help them both now and in the future.
Finally, in interviews with students from the different Houses, the common message they all share is the importance of love and kindness for others.
They may have different Houses, but the students and staff at Belle Heth are making their close-knit school just like a second home for everyone.