Fairbanks, Alaska As the school year begins, many of our students are settling back into the schoolroom routine - but this year, students and faculty of Joy Elementary are doing things a little bit differently.
Last March Principal Lalaunie Whisenhant visited the Ron Clark Academy in Georgia and that's where she learned about the house system. The Georgia school has four houses and the students utilize six words, which now comprises Joy’s student houses.
These houses each represent different continents around the world. Amistad is the house of friendship, Pinal is for knowledge, Altruismo is the house of givers, Nukumori is for kindness, Isibindi stands for courage and Reveur means to dream.
Whisenhant returned home excited at the possibility of building unity among students and staff. To personalize the house crests and make them reflect Alsaka, Whisenhant got students involved and asked them to provide art for the house crests.
In each house there will be a staff head of house which the staff will designate in their house. Every staff member has been included in this year’s change from the kitchen manager to each custodian to the nurse. A student leader will also be appointed and together as a house they will plan activities, including house lunches, field trips and house games.
Principal Whisenhant said it's about working together and supporting each other.
And on Friday, students attended a sorting ceremony, excited for the big reveal, "I woke up at 5 and then go back to sleep because I was excited about the assembly,” 7th grader Donovan Harris said.
Just about everyone in the room was filled with joy giving out hugs, high fives and smiles, "I'm super, super excited. This is going to be so much fun. I can't wait,” student Hannah Glass said.
And for one lucky student, 6th grader Jonathan Gallemore, he gets to spend his time in Isibindi with his friends, “I really wanted to be in the color I wanted and I am so I got what I wished for."
The students and teachers ended their sorting ceremony by practicing a house chant.
Students are also competing to win the house cup with their kindness. Teachers or staff who witness students presenting strong character and hard work will award that student's house with what are called house points. The house with the most points at the end of the year will receive the house cup.