“We want to make middle school a bit more like Hogwarts” -Principal Steinorth
This year, all the 7th and 8th graders will be able to participate in “Class Houses''. If you’re in middle school, you already know what we’re talking about, but for many others, this is something new. Class houses (something put together by Principal Steinorth and organized by ER Scream’s very own– Mr. Hicks) at its core is a way to connect middle schoolers to Eagle Rock. Every student has been divided into one of four houses (Grey Wing, Eagle Eye, Green Talon, or Raptor House) and these four houses will go head to head in order to win the “House Cup''. Points will be awarded on the basis of academics, attendance, and various other events. Not only do these points go into winning the house cup, but these points can also earn potlucks, parties, and other rewards. Furthermore, each house will be paired with upperclassmen mentors from the club Bridges that’ll help them, merging the said club and class houses together (but we’ll talk more about that later).
Aside from the more typical ways to earn points (grades, attendance, etc) there'll also be a lot of activities and events where you can earn points for your house.The first event, a kickball tournament, is happening at lunch on Wednesday. This will be the first chance for houses to compete against each other and earn points and a fun way to kick things off. In the first round, the Eagle Eyes will be facing Raptor House and the Green Talons are up against Grey Wing. The two winning teams will advance to the Championship Game on Thursday, so watch out for that! Aside from the kickball tournament, there are so many other events taking place this year. The goal is to have events that interest everyone– this way everyone can get involved. If you have any suggestions for future events, talk to your house head or Mr. Hicks, and they’ll try their best to make it happen. Some upcoming events include soccer, basketball, and volleyball tournaments, debate competitions, and an escape room.
So now that you know how to earn points, who do you go to to ask questions about your house? There are four teachers who represent the houses. Ms. Stough (Grey Wings), Ms. Wilkens (Raptor House), Ms. Lee (Green Talons), and Mr. Lachica (Eagle Eyes). These amazing teachers will be leading and organizing your house, so make sure you talk to them!
“For now, I'm really excited because I just saw my list of students for the kickball game,” says Ms. Lee, “We’re Green Talon and we’re the most talon-ted.” On the other hand Raptor Houses’ head, Ms. Wilkins is excited about the upcoming escape room, “I'm excited about being able to do an escape room type of event. This will create opportunities for students that might not know each other work together. They will be able to overcome challenges in a safe space.”
Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with the houses, let’s take a closer look at what’s going on behind the scenes. The design and thought process put into the houses wasn’t just aiming to give us chances to play more kickball, or come up with cool logos, but more importantly to enrich the school and give students interactive learning opportunities. Along with the house heads and Mr. Steinorth, Mr. Hicks is working as the house coordinator and can give us a better idea of what to expect and look forward to.
“Mr. Steinorth wanted to create some sort of identity for the middle school, and he’s a huge Harry Potter fan, so he thought it would be fun to do the houses much in the spirit of that,” he says. On the list of reasons that Mr. Steinorth wanted to try this, elevating and helping the 7th and 8th graders at this school have an isolated middle school experience was at the top. In a 7th grade through 12th-grade school, there are a lot more opportunities for the middle schoolers as they are merged with high school, but the one thing they miss out on is their individual experiences of everything that middle school would entail by itself. This venture hopes to single out those moments and give students something to look back on. That’s just the surface, though. The origin story for this endeavor is much more complex.
“There’s an old tradition here at Eagle Rock where we’ve always had the upperclassmen mentor and coach the younger kids, right?” says Mr. Hicks. “Yeah, it was called Bridges. And for years and years, we had this and then it kind of fell apart and went away,” he frowns.
Last year, and earlier this year a few kids came to Mr. Hicks and requested to put Bridges back together. He agreed, but they weren’t quite sure how to start going about it. “At that same time,” he adds, “Mr. Steinorth approached me and said ‘Mr. Hicks, would you want to be in charge of buildings and houses?’ And I said I would love to. So all those forces kind of came together, you know?” After that, it was just a matter of how to combine it all.
For students who started at ERHS before the pandemic, Bridges is familiar- but for all the incoming 7th graders and this year's 8th graders, that concept may be a little bit confusing. So, here’s how it’s going to work; it’s an afterschool program that will happen about once a month. About 7 middle schoolers will be matched up with 2 upperclassmen, and they’ll get to know each other. There will always be a few icebreakers at the beginning to loosen up, and then a lesson. It could be something like how to figure out your grade point average, or how to start a college entrance essay. Then at the end, there will be some sort of fun game to finish up.
Bridges is a really good program to consider participating in to learn new skills and meet new people. In collaboration with the middle school houses, there are more and more chances to grow and try new things at ERHS.
As with everything, there are going to be kids who shoot this down, but a lot of work was put into creating it. Of course, it’s fine to have some doubts, but if you don’t try and get involved you’ll never know if you would have had fun. “So we're just gonna be persistent,” notes Mr. Hicks. “And I think what's going to happen is the kids who are on the fence or the kids who say this is dumb, I think they're going to watch the other kids have a ton of fun. And I think they're going to come around to the idea of it.”
There’s so much you can expect from the Class Houses and we hope that this is just the first year of many to come.