House System

Rooted in the Marianist Tradition

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  • The STVM House System

    St. Vincent-St. Mary High School's House System embodies our Irish heritage, school history, diversity, and mission, all of which are rooted in the Marianist Tradition.
To demonstrate these qualities, each of our four Houses possess symbols and names that represent the many facets of our school's history, traditions, and connections to our community.
Each House is named after a tree that is native to both Ireland and Northeast Ohio: Ash, Hawthorn, Holly and Oak. According to Irish history, each of these trees possess unique qualities and attributes. Like a tree, as we continue to nurture countless students' faith and minds, our St. Vincent-St. Mary community grows each year. Moreover, since Akron is one of only 3,400 designated Tree cities in the country, our House names emphasize the connection we have to our community. Consequently, the leaf of each tree is found on each House's crest. 

In order to underscore the importance of the Marianist Tradition at St. Vincent-St. Mary, each crest has an item from the Marianist table setting tradition. For Marianists, setting the table is a unique and important symbol: "Around a table people gather to be nurtured, to celebrate each other as family and friends, to share in spirited conversations, to feel the special bond of unity as brothers and sisters in the Family of God." Thus, a symbol from the Marianist table was added to each Houses' crest to emphasize how everyone in the St. Vincent-St. Mary community is invited to join us in our faith community. 

Lastly, each crest has an Ogham Rune symbol. The Ogham Runes are letters of an alphabet used in the early Irish language nearly 2,000 years ago. The Ogham Rune script found on each crest is a symbol for that House's tree.

Understanding the House Crests

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Originally developed in British boarding schools as far back as the 1800s, the “House System” was established as a means to support and encourage students in their academic and social lives while apart from their families. The students actually lived in houses with the faculty and students with whom they were grouped, hence the name.

Many Marianist schools across the United States have adopted the use of the House System. It is an excellent way to encourage a family atmosphere and healthy competition. Students meet almost every day in mentor group, which is a blend of all grade levels, and at least two teachers. This group will stay together for four years, which provides the students with additional adult and student support.

Program Overview

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School students and faculty in grades 9-12 will be assigned into one of the four distinct Houses. Each House will have its own unique characteristics: namesake, crest, colors, and symbols. Each House will be led by one faculty member (House Dean) and several teachers (Mentor Group Teachers). The House System also offers multiple leadership opportunities for our students.

The Houses will compete for points in a wide variety of categories throughout the school year, including academics, sports, and community service. The Houses will participate in service projects and lead exciting school events such as the Annual House Olympics. The end result will be one house earning the prestigious House Cup, awarded at the end of each school year.

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  • Benefits

    The House System is student-centered with the primary purpose creating an atmosphere of individual growth and development as well as a sense of community and belonging.   
    • Builds community within the school. 
    • Engages students in campus life. 
    • Develops student leaders. 
    • Strengthens relationships across grades and interests. 
    • Creates discipleship opportunities. 
    • Provides consistent and varied social experiences. 
    • Establishes and maintains traditions. 
    • Provides service opportunities. 
    • Assimilates new students rapidly.  
    • Encourages positive behavior. 
    • Enhances school spirit. 
    • Provides positive competition. 
    • Cultivates camaraderie. 
    • Increases sense of identity and belonging.  
    • Attracts prospective students and families.  
  • House Structure

    Leading the House System overall are the House Directors, who work closely with the administration and leadership within each House.

    In each House:
    • House Dean
    • Four House Captains 
    • Mentor Group Teachers
    • Mentor Group Student Leaders
  • House Olympics

    Throughout the course of the year, students will compete in different events that earn points for their House. Two of our main events and sources for points during the school year are the Mini House Olympics and end of the year House Olympics. During both of these events field day style activities are played, including events like tug-of-war and student relays.

    The Mini House Olympics occurs after the first semester and has historically been slightly smaller than House Olympics, which occurs in the spring. House Olympics is the final event the House System hosts for the school year. The House Cup is awarded at the end of this event to the House that has the most cumulative points for the school year. The House Olympics Cup is awarded to the House that earns the most points during the specific day.
  • Alumni Houses

    Ash House
    Irish emigrants to America took pieces of the ash with them as a charm against drowning. Ash was thought to have power over water. Celtic mythology refers to the ash tree as "The World Tree," a tree that spans between worlds. The Ash tree represents longevity, endurance, and productivity.

    Classes in Ash House: 1903, 1907, 1911, 1915, 1919, 1923, 1927, 1931, 1935, 1939, 1943, 1947, 1951, 1955, 1959, 19631965, 1971, 19781979, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1995, 1999, 200320092011, 2016, 2019

    Hawthorn House

    The Hawthorn is a tree of magical enchantment and is strongly associated with Beltane, the ancient festival celebrating spring. In Celtic mythology it is one of the most sacred trees and symbolizes love and protection.

    Classes in Hawthorn: 1904, 1908, 1912, 1916, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2006, 20122015, 2020

    Holly House
    Traditionally, the Holly tree is highly sacred in Celtic mythology and symbolizes peace and goodwill. Due to its resistance to lightning, it is associated with the Celtic and Norse gods of thunder, Taranis and Thor, and so was planted near dwellings to protect people from lightning strikes. Holly also symbolizes fertility and eternal life.

    Classes in Holly House: 1902, 1906, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1922, 1926, 1930, 1934, 1938, 1942, 1946, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1967, 1970, 1977, 1974, 1981, 1986, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2005, 2010, 2013, 2018

    Oak House

    The word "druid" actually comes from the Celtic word for Oak, which is "Duir." The Druids also believed that the Oak tree is host to the strength and energy of their gods and so to catch a falling Oak leaf brings good luck and prosperity. In mythology, the Irish Oak symbolizes truth, courage and wisdom.

    Classes in Oak House: 1901, 1905, 1909,1913, 1917, 1921, 1925, 1929, 1933, 1937, 1941, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1957, 1961, 1966, 1969, 19751976, 1982, 1985, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2017

Correlation to STVM's Mission

In the spirit of the Gospel, we are committed to educate the whole person; to lead and to serve, enlightening the mind, developing the body, touching the heart and inspiring the soul.

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  • “Committed to educate the whole person”

    • The House System is a social system, providing many, varied social experiences. 
    • Houses are divided with a wide mix of ages, genders, interests, abilities and personalities.  
    • Students and faculty interact in a social environment, rather than strictly at an academic level. 
  • “To Lead and to Serve”

    • Student leaders are developed through mentoring relationships with faculty and older students. 
    • Student hold defined leadership responsibilities with the House and are held accountable. 
    • Each House has multiple student leader positions, which vastly increases student leadership opportunities. 
  • “Enlightening the mind”

    • Student leaders are held to high standards of Christ-like character and behavior and serve as examples for other students. 
    • Houses can win points for excellent character of their members, which fosters positive peer pressure to make good choices and work hard.

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  • “Developing the body”

    • Interpersonal skills, teamwork, perseverance, acceptance, edification, competition, sportsmanship, leadership, service, integrity, trustworthiness and citizenship are enhanced.  
    • Preparing our students for life through academic challenges, self-responsibility, resourceful technology and competitive skills that foster resilience.  
  • “Touching the heart”

    • The House System engages the entire family through traditions and generational involvement. 
    • Adult mentors form bonding relationships with each student within each House, providing both academic and pastoral care.  
  • “Inspiring the soul”

    • Students are engaged in the school, which enhances their receptiveness to the teaching and training in Christ-like character provided by the teachers and administration.

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • How will my student be assigned to a House?

    All high school students enrolled at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School will be assigned to a House. The students’ names will be grouped according to grade, gender, and extra-curricular participation, then assignments will be made randomly and evenly across all four Houses. Assignments will be made randomly with no preference given for any situation.
  • Will All my children be assigned to the same House?

    Yes. The House System is familial, meaning all the members of an immediate family will be in the same House. However, siblings will not be in the same mentor group.  Younger siblings will know which House they will be assigned to once their siblings are assigned. 
  • How are the student leaders chosen?

    Students interested in becoming a leader are encouraged to fill out the application. Teachers and peers can encourage individuals to apply. All applicants are given a first interview with their House Dean and members of the current student leadership of the House. A second interview is given to selected applicants with all members of the adult House Leadership. Final decisions are then made following the second interview.
  • Who should my student go to if they have questions or concerns about the House System?

    Depending on the situation, students can speak with their mentor group student leaders or their mentor group teachers. If the situation requires it, they can talk to one of their student House Captains or their House Dean. The House Directors are also available to assist as necessary. School administration will be brought into the conversation if and when necessary.
  • What if my student’s friends are all in a different mentor group?

    The goal of the House System is to ensure a family atmosphere at STVM. The students will still have classes, sports, and other activities to be with their friends. The House System will provide students with several pathways to meet and make new friends.
  • How is this going to enhance my student’s experience at STVM?

    The House System is going to enhance a student’s experience by streamlining leadership opportunities, faith building, mentorship and communication within the school. We believe that if students have people to assist with the difficulties of high school and help to hold students accountable, a more positive experience will be possible. In the system, mentor groups meet almost daily.  This will give mentor teachers a gauge on each student academically, socially, and emotionally. This will hold each accountable for the progress at STVM. This will help students avoid falling through the cracks.

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School

In the spirit of the Gospel, we are committed to educate the whole person; to lead and to serve, enlightening the mind, developing the body, touching the heart, and inspiring the soul.