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Peak Charter Academy Divides Into Houses to Build Community

Holding a draft isn’t just for professional sports, but for Peak Charter Academy!

At the end of the 2018-19 school year, Peak held a House Draft to introduce their House System, which includes 12 total houses made of fifth- through eighth-grade students.

“I wanted to launch this at Peak last year to help fifth graders establish and sustain vertical relationships with middle schoolers in the hope of keeping them here for sixth- through- eighth grade,” said Steve Pond, principal at Peak. “Unlike a Harry Potter sorting hat, we have students select a colored slip of paper to identify their new house.”

For the Draft Assembly, teachers were given a sign in their House color with the House name. Students in fifth- through eighth-grade picked colors from a bucket and reported to their house. Houses are led by fifth- through eighth-grade teachers and each House is given a color and is named after a famous pirate, since they are the Peak Pirates. Students will stay in their assigned House throughout their time at Peak.

From there, the Houses reported back to facilitate team building activities and the House that earned the most points at the end of the year won a trip to Raleighwood, a local cinema and eatery. Students were excited about the trip and Peak leaders saw an increase in positive behaviors following the implementation of the House System. 

Joanna Betts, special education teacher at Peak, and Karmen Avery, fifth-grade math teacher at Peak, lead the House Program and arrange monthly initiatives for the houses to engage in. They coordinate House Assemblies, map out service-learning projects, and plan incentives and celebrations for each month. In November the Houses completed a gratitude challenge, which allowed them to earn points based on the activities and experiences they engaged others in throughout the month. For every minute helping someone else, the House earned a point. The House winner won a dress down day with movie, pizza, and popcorn. 

For December, the Houses collected and made Helping Hands bags to distribute to those in need and show them that Peak Cares. Each of the 12 houses created 24 bags, and contents included water bottles, gallon slip lock bags, toiletry items, individually wrapped snacks, and something warm.

“We have seen an increase in positive student behaviors and cross-grade interactions,” said Betts. “We believe that the House Model will decrease students' anxiety about moving to middle school and increase their awareness of the world around them.”