Changing things up: Millbridge Elementary announces house system rebrand

Published 12:03 am Friday, March 3, 2023

CHINA GROVE — A little bit of rain stood no chance of dampening the spirit of Millbridge Musketeers.

The school hosted a pep rally in its auditorium on Thursday. The China Grove Middle School Drum Line provided musical entertainment to the roaring delight of the students. Meanwhile, cheerleaders from the middle school and South Rowan High guided students through a series of exclamations as they gathered and cheered for their respective houses.

Houses correspond with various character traits such as loyalty, courage and compassion and are composed of students from every grade.

Unbeknownst to the students, school officials would be switching things up and adopting five more houses bringing the total to eight. Principal Lyndsey Pelusi indicated that the rebranding corresponded with elements of the famed Ron Clark Academy and would help make students with the houses more familiar with each other.

“When one house is super-crowded, it is hard to get to know other students in that house,” Pelusi said.

Even though it meant her team color would change, Pelusi is eager to see the change implemented.

“While I love rocking the red wig, we will be retiring the colors,” Pelusi said. “We used to have three houses, but now we are going to have eight.”

The rebranded housing incorporated various cultures, geography and languages to coincide with the new colors.

“The school had the house system, and they always wanted to do it like the Ron Clark system, but there was never really a way to go see it, and how do you bring something like that without seeing it is really difficult, so we went in January,” Pelusi said.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools has a teacher-led design team.

“It is the best of the best in the building, who basically come together and dream up the impossible and see if we can make it happen for our kids,” Pelusi said.

That team asked if it could attend the Ron Clark Academy, and Pelusi was on board.

“It was a professional development on their house system,” Pelusi said. “It’s a real live school there, so we got to see what it looked like in practice.”

The important thing about the house system that Pelusi observed was that it “excites” kids to come to school.

“We want school to be engaging,” Pelusi said. “We want them to want to belong and feel like they have a sense of community with their peers.”

The houses intentionally range across various cultures and geography.

“They designed it specifically from all over the world, like different cultures, so that kids in their house learn about that culture and what that word means,” Pelusi said. “My house is ‘altruismo,’ which is the black house. It is the house of givers because you not only stand up for yourself, but you stand up and protect other people. That group will focus on that next year. The students will learn about the other houses.”

Every house takes on its own culture. There are houses reflective of Japanese, Italian and Brazilian cultures, to name a few.

The change will go into effect next year after the students are randomly sorted into houses. The ages range in every grade, another intentional measure of the house program.

“We do that on purpose,” Pelusi said. “We want our older kids, like fifth graders, to have leadership opportunities to mentor some of our younger kids. They see that. So, when they reach the fifth grade, they have that same opportunity to be a leader.”

With a large school, getting every student on the same page is hard, so the house system allows a sense of community to be cultivated more efficiently.

“It takes a lot of time, energy and effort, and you have to find a place to put all those people,” Pelusi said. “The house system allows us to do more events together inside and outside of school because the black house may get together with the blue house to do something this month.”

Pelusi added that it also breeds healthy competition.

“The important thing is that there will be eight houses but one family,” Pelusi said. “We love competition, but we also cheer for everybody else. Learning that growth mindset about how to lose and be a good loser is an important life skill. That is something we constantly work on here. You are not going to win all the time, but you cheer on your friends when they do.”