TCS House System and Communitas

Quinn Baskin, Campus Chaplin

The House System is a time-honoured structure of student body organization originating in British boarding schools and still prominent there on many campuses.  Students were initially grouped according to the actual boarding house in which they lived and a structure of leadership, social interaction, and competition grew up around that organization.  Implementation of a House System at non-boarding boarding schools soon took hold and though the houses are not actual buildings, the system provides for students a similar structure and community within the larger school community.  House Systems have grown in prominence in American private schools over the last 15 years.

At TCS the purpose of the house system is to strengthen the school community by fostering camaraderie amongst the student body, providing leadership and mentoring opportunities for students, and giving a structure for healthy, character building competition.  Each 7th grade student is assigned to a house at the annual House Sorting Ceremony during the second week of school. The assignment is largely by chance and students remain members of that house through graduation. Younger students with older siblings will be sorted into the same house as their older brother or sister once they reach 7th grade.  

TCS has chosen to name our houses after well-established scientists of history who were also outspoken followers of Christ.  We worked to acknowledge a variety of scientific disciplines, as well as to represent a certain level of geographic diversity.  We believe that these individuals represent the pursuit of excellence and strong character that we desire to instill in our students.  The four houses are House Kepler, Pascal, Maxwell, and Carver.

The weekend following the House Sorting Ceremony TCS hosts a one night, two day retreat called Communitas. At the retreat students join with other members of their house in various team competitions and tasks against the other houses. During four 2.5 hour sessions students rotate between games like ultimate frisbee, gaga ball, water polo, nukem, and knockout. They also compete in other water activities and a low ropes teamwork course.  During the sessions they are organized into teams with other students from their house. The teams take on various arrangements to include the entire house, members of the house from the Rhetoric or Logic School, and teams of all the boys or all the girls from their house. Between sessions students eat meals together in a large dining hall and have free time to climb the rockwall or engage in lake activities like canoeing or the blob.

Points are earned throughout the competitions and activities and before the retreat ends a house is crowned Communitas Champion.  In a very close race, with all houses demonstrating valiant effort, the 2019 Communitas Champion was House Maxwell. The retreat also serves each year as the official start to the annual House Cup Competition. Throughout the year houses will continue to earn points through academic achievements, service projects, and other school activities and enrichment programs.