Student House Program

What is a House?
Starting in the autumn of 2013, the Nova Classical Academy Upper School initiated a House program. While new to Nova, House systems stretch back as far as the medieval period in European universities and continue through this day. As the name suggests, Houses started as residential buildings in boarding schools and were a means for creating identity for a sub-group of students and faculty within the larger institution. Like those medieval Houses, Nova’s House system forms the basis for fostering school loyalty, identity, and camaraderie. Houses function as a nexus that connects the various elements of Nova’s Upper School life and scholarship.  Within the House system, Nova’s longstanding virtue curriculum provides the grounding for who we are and what we do. From this curriculum, emerge the three pillars on which Nova’s House program stands: Intentional Joy, Service, and Legacy.

What will Houses be like at Nova?
Nova’s House System has four Houses: Hart, Ursa, Gryphon, and Leo. Houses are comprised of students in grades 6-12, governed overall by the Headmistress (Principal) a faculty House Council, and student Prefects from the School of Rhetoric (9-12) who work with the House Council to identify and accomplish specific goals and build legacies. Students will remain in their same Houses for the duration of their time in the Upper School, allowing them to establish norms, traditions, and relationships.

Houses are subdivided into Families within which students will form the primary bonds of House life. Families are made up of no more than 25 students attached to a faculty Procurator who oversees the weekly Family meeting, mentors students, and helps identify and develop student leaders.  These families are grouped by grade, allowing students from each of the four Houses to collaborate on important grade-level legacy events, to engage in friendly competition, and to form bonds based on legacy experiences. Teachers in each grade are encouraged to interweave grade-level themes into daily instruction.

What are the Houses and Families and how will I join one?
Nova’s House and Family names were selected by Nova faculty and students and are named for animals in tribute to medieval heraldic tradition. Each of these Houses represents specific attributes.

When will Houses and Families meet and what will they do?
Houses and Families will typically meet one time per week yearlong. The school day will run on a House schedule with slightly shortened class periods to accommodate the inclusion of House/Family time. Within a month, students will meet at the Family level, House level, or at an Assembly/Event. Whole House gatherings may involve teambuilding and social activities, service projects, competitions/sports, guest speakers, cultural events and more. Family meetings will be conversational in format on topics related to virtue and citizenship, with time also for recognizing student success, socializing, and more. Assemblies will recognize team success, highlight Nova’s academic traditions, and showcase hallmarks of a classical school.

What are House Points?
House members can compete against other Houses to earn points.  While point-bearing activities will be fluid during the year, points will be awarded to students, families and Houses that promote Nova’s school culture.  Large-scale Legacy events, non-academic activities that foster positive school culture, special service events, as well as the Nova Scavenger Hunt are a few ways students can earn points for their House. A special year-end recognition is awarded to the House that has earned the most points during the course of the year.