Beginning this year, Dallas International School introduced a new program to the upper campus through which it hopes to reinforce and increase positive behavior, school spirit and participation. The program is called the DIS House System.
At the beginning of the year, each student and faculty member at the Waterview campus was randomly assigned to one of four newly created houses, or groups. The houses were named after the four elements in Latin, being Ignis (fire), Ventus (air), Aqua (water) and Terra (earth). Each house contains roughly an equal number of students by grade level. All students were briefed on the program in a motivational assembly in August, and the first official house meetings took place on Wednesday, October 25.
“The house system is a way to have fun, friendly competition at school,” said Brandon Walters, a counselor at DIS and the supervisor of the house system. “It’s just a positive, fun way to increase school spirit, participation, positive behaviors and academic achievement. It also helps to establish positive relationships between students across grade levels.”
The competitive aspect stems from the House Cup contest, a friendly yearlong race between houses to see who can accumulate the most house points by the end of the school year. Students can earn points in four categories: competition (winners of field day events, music competitions, spelling bees, etc.), spirit (attending or volunteering at official DIS events such as dances or games), behavior (houses with the best overall behavior record per trimester receive points) and academic (students per trimester named on the honor roll).
Updated house point totals will be kept on the monitors around the Waterview campus, and the house with the most points at the end of the year wins the House Cup and a special celebration. This friendly competition is also meant to increase camaraderie among students.
“I’m hoping students can develop positive relationships with each other, regardless of age or homeroom,” Walters said. “I also hope they enjoy this new aspect at DIS, and after they graduate, they will have another positive memory to look back on.”
Through the house system, students will also have new leadership opportunities. At the first house meetings this week, each house elected a high school student as House Captain. The House Captain’s responsibilities include helping run house meetings and encouraging house spirit. Working in tandem with their house’s lead faculty representative, or House Leader, the House Captain also represents their house at the House Council, a once-per-trimester meeting of all house leadership.
The House Captains elected for the 2017-18 school year are Liam Gilligan (Ventus), Sebastian Gray (Terra), Tristan Stock (Ignis) and Julian Rojas-Rueda (Aqua).
But the house meetings weren’t all business. House Leaders helped kick off the fun with a few ice breaker games in which students got out of their comfort zone and met new friends. After discussing opportunities to earn house points and electing House Captains, the students then brainstormed ideas for a house logo and a house chant. Both will be finalized later in the school year. Students also received a special color-coded bracelet associated with their house. House meetings will continue on a once-per-trimester basis.
“I am excited to see the individual houses grow and develop into places where students feel that they belong, much like a small family within DIS,” Walters said.