Robinson Middle tests “Harry Potter” inspired house system

A KINGSPORT HOGWARTS? This coat of arms mock-up represents the effort of Robinson Middle to bring a

Charles Deng

A KINGSPORT HOGWARTS? This coat of arms mock-up represents the effort of Robinson Middle to bring a "House System" to students.

Adyn Smith, Staff Writer

In the “Harry Potter” stories, the school of Hogwarts is divided into houses. Students are sorted into these houses based on their traits and their own wishes. In the House Cup challenge, houses face off against each other for the most points at the end of the year. Now, a school in Kingsport has created a similar system.

As of this school year, Ross N. Robinson Middle School has created a house system in order to improve the school. The goal is to improve the school’s atmosphere by giving points for good behavior, kind deeds and being a good student.

The Robinson houses are Rêvenur, Altruismo, Amistad and Isibindi. They were inspired by the Ron Clark Academy. This academy is a private middle school in Atlanta, Georgia that uses its own type of house system to motivate students.

Cameron Buck is a math teacher at Robinson Middle and part of the House of Amistad.

“Students are randomly sorted throughout the houses and students can earn points by being nice and doing hard work, but these are not always rewarded because this is what we want them to do.” he said. “Robinson put this in place to encourage our students to be generally good people and to work hard in their classes.”

Points are awarded to the four different houses as rewards and it is very much a competition. Students have to work together.

“Points are given by doing things that are expected of you and they can’t be taken away,” Evie Bennett, a 7th grade student at Robinson Middle, said. “I believe that other schools should have it, but not the high school, because there are too many people.”

The house system is very popular with students because it opens them up to meet a lot of new people that are even in other grades. It also poses a challenge for them because they get points for being a generally good student.

“I like being grouped into a house because you get to meet other students,” Gracie Skelton, a 6th grade student, said. “We have a set of rules about it and they are called the RNR 44.”

There is no reward for being in the lead other than recognition.

“The goal is to have the points themselves to be the reward, so there is no need to pay for a party or reward for 250 students,” Buck said. “We have seen success, but it requires a lot of planning if another school would want to do something similar.”

Cooper Height, an 8th grade student at Sevier Middle, does not think this system is a good idea.

“Some people, including me, don’t like ‘Harry Potter’,” he said. “I feel that it is making your whole school year into a reference that some don’t even enjoy. If there is a good prize for winning, like something you can’t easily buy, people will be motivated to win that prize, but if it’s something that is easily accessible, or people don’t like it, they won’t be as motivated to get the prize.”

Kiera Welsh, a 7th grade student, disagrees. She thinks a similar system could work at Sevier Middle.

“Some JSMS teachers are already doing something like it, so it wouldn’t be too bad,” she said. “If there is a prize, students will be motivated because they could get something good out of it. Since it doesn’t go by grade level, it means that if one teacher stops, it won’t ruin the experience”.

Holly Flora, Sevier’s principal, is very supportive of Robinson’s experiment.

“I support RNR doing anything that they feel is best for their school,” Flora said. “RNR had a drastic increase in referrals, including ISS and OSS, so as a staff, they chose a house system to help fix it.”

However, Flora does not necessarily believe the same system should be used at her school.

“Sevier has cut referrals in half, that is from help with our ‘Way Of The Warrior’ action team, which put systems in place to support positive student behavior,” she said.

Norie-Anne Young, an 8th grade Language Arts teacher at Sevier, would like to see her school try a house system.

“I think it is a neat idea to promote unity and a positive school culture,” she said. “A prize system could help motivate students depending on the type of prize. I believe that Sevier already has a positive culture, but it could help with behavior with our students.”

Buck believes that dividing students into houses has already had a positive impact.

“In our first house rally, we saw some students who normally stick to the back of crowds become leaders and be cheered on by their peers,” he said. “Those kinds of interactions don’t always happen, and the students were extremely excited to get to have friends to cheer them on for once.”

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