After months of quiet planning and diligent work, St. George's recently unveiled a new house system. The house system approach stems from a common practice in English boarding schools. If you are familiar with the Harry Potter series, you likely remember that the students were divided into houses in this manner as well.
The house system at St. George’s is a student-led initiative, born out of the 2017 junior-class retreat as a way to build connections among students of different grades who otherwise might not cross paths and further enhance the positive student culture that already exists. Upper School students were sorted into one of four houses which are each named after trees commonly found on campus. The specific trees were chosen for each house for their inherent attributes. When applied to our students, these properties spotlight the qualities that both connect students and make them unique.
Four trees indigenous to our wetlands were chosen by a small group of students, teachers, and administrators to be the names of the four houses; each tree with distinct attributes that are also reflected in our St. George’s Portrait of a Graduate. The Cypress is relentless, the Ironwood is tough as nails, the Swamp Willow is swamp strong, and the Honey Locust is untouchable. Throughout the year, students will accumulate points through whole house challenges, showing up and showing out to extracurricular events, maintaining high academics, and displaying good character on and off campus.
Unlike the other trees on the St. George's grounds, the honey locust tree has developed a unique form of protection. Its thorns once provided defense from early settlers who wished to chop it down. Like their tree, the members of House Honey Locust cannot be cut down. Their spirit is untouchable.
The color of House Honey Locust is an Amber yellow because of the bright amber color of the leaves in the fall. The sweet pulp of the pods of the honey locust is also yellow.
The ironwood tree was given its name because it boasts some of the densest wood in our area. This tree is so tough, its wood is said to dull the axes and saws used to cut it. Similarly, the members of House Ironwood exude strength. They weather storms when others buckle. They are tough as nails.
The color of House Ironwood is steel blue and comes from the color of the bark of the Ironwood tree. Older individuals sometimes call the tree a “blue beech” or a Musclewood.
The great cypress tree can be found in the swamps of the Southeast, standing tall in murky waters where others have succumbed to the harsh surroundings. Like the tree after which this house is named, its members persevere when others surrender. They stand tall and endure regardless of their circumstances. They are relentless.
The color of house Cypress is “Heather Clay” because this is the color of the inner bark of the cypress that protects the tree from the natural elements. The leaves of the cypress tree also turn this heather clay color in the fall.
Known as the “tree of enchantment,” the willow tree’s endurance is incomparable with that of other trees and can only be described as swamp strong. Naturally, members of House Willow are adaptive and resilient. They are not boastful because they don’t have to be. They are confident survivors. They are Swamp Strong.
The color of House Willow is forest green to symbolize energy, life, and renewal.
Adopting the house system not only celebrates the qualities that make our scholars unique, it creates a sense of camaraderie and identity among them that would not come about organically. By providing opportunities for students at different grade levels to interact, we are laying the foundation for diverse friendships to thrive, creative partnerships to flourish and educational opportunities to ignite.
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