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Competition and Friendship Flow at Triumph in House Meetings

Scholars at Triumph Academy are teaming up and competing for bragging rights and fun activities in a schoolwide house format – much like Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series.
There are six houses at Triumph, each named after a different positive trait: Creativity, Curiosity, Generosity, Opportunity, Positivity, and Tenacity. Each house is made up of kids from third through eighth grade and is represented with different colors and mascots.

Student wearing house "Curiosity" shirt.
Third-grade teacher Mandy Paterson and Dean of Lower Elementary Nicole Hnilica lead the program and have focused on the unity, accountability, and belonging this program is bringing their scholars. These school leaders said they feel like the experience has benefited Triumph’s scholars.
“It’s been nice to connect with students across the building,” Hnilica said. “I noticed since we’ve met in our houses that the students in my house will say ‘good morning’ or ‘hello’ to me because it’s a familiar face.”
Thanks to the house groupings, scholars from third grade are learning from their eighth-grade counterparts. This camaraderie is one of the many reasons Triumph has outperformed the local district for 13 years. Paterson said the kinship between house members creates morale between students and staff.
Students playing glow games.

Hnilica said she hopes scholars can connect with just one other person at school to create a space for everyone to be authentically themselves.
“It really strengthens our culture,” Hnilica said. “Our big goal is for every student to have a person within the building they can connect with. It could be with someone in their house or a teacher they’ve had in the past. Having that one person is so important.”
Houses meet on a monthly basis and are competing to see which house earns the most points. Points are given out for academic performance, trading in Triumph’s school currency for points, or staff members can award points based on their observations.

Students playing glow games.

The winning house at the end of each month wins bragging rights plus the enjoyment of seeing everyone at school wear that house color. The stakes get raised for the trimester-long competition, though. The top house at the end of each trimester wins a special opportunity to celebrate their achievement. For example, the first trimester’s reward is a two-hour bowling field trip.
Each house still gets to celebrate at the end of each trimester, though. Glow games, movies and popcorn, and Christmas bingo are activities other houses will participate in to celebrate a trimester of hard work and friendship.
While the competition is fierce, the lessons along the way are even more valuable. The house format is a great way to incorporate Moral Focus lessons into scholars’ lives. At November’s house meetings, each house created a chain of gratitude. Each chain was connected and the entire chain was displayed in the school throughout November.
What a great activity, Triumph! Keep up the great work!
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About Triumph Academy:
Triumph Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Monroe, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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