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Creekview a house divided — on purpose


Members of the “Math” House at Creekview Elementary School meet with each other on a stage.

The idea of having students divided up into “houses” is not a completely new idea, with many schools patterning certain aspects of their activities through the Harry Potter model at Hogwarts School.
But at Creekview Elementary, the idea of houses is done to the tune of Science Technology Engineering and Science (STEM).
“This creates competition within the school,” explained Principal John Thomas. “There is a house for each of the STEM areas and each classroom has as equal numbers of students representing the four houses. We had an assembly the first week of school and students took chips randomly and were assigned to each house.”
Each house has a different color. This makes it easy to discern who belongs to what house on Fridays when the students wear tee shirts the school supplied and meet with their assigned group. This year science is green, technology is yellow, engineering is red and math is blue.
The competition between the houses is based on colored chips. These chips indicate the performance of their houses as a whole. Blue chips are for attendance (if a student is here for the day or even part of the day they earn a blue chip). Yellow chips are for being on time and avoiding tardies, which ties in with the districts attendance policy.  Thomas said this is a hard one because they can’t be late, even slightly, or they won’t earn a chip. Green chips are for behavior. When a staff members sees a student doing something good they can issue one of the green chips.
The houses all have containers each in their classrooms. That is where the chips are deposited.
“Then there are gold chips,” said Thomas. “When students do something exceptional, I can reward them with a gold chip. They are nominated by a staff member for gold chips and then I go put it in their houses container in their class room.”
Gold chips are worth five points, rather than one like every one of the other colored chips.
On the other side of the coin, however, is the black chips (demerit chips), which Thomas also controls. He has a file and when teachers report something bad to him he issues that student a demerit chip which also goes in that classes house container. Black chips are a minus 10 points when the total is counted.
Each Friday they meet as their houses together and count the chips from each classroom. They add them up (and of course subtract points for black chips) and that is posted on a board in the library. With the new school year the program has just begun and at the time of this release the total score was close between all the houses.
“At this point there is no prize for being the best house,” said Thomas. “But the competitiveness shows throughout the school.”
The different  houses are also in charge of certain activities through the year. The engineering house is in charge of the engineering night, the science house will be in charge of the science fair, the math house is in charge of the math night and , the technology house is in charge of family literacy night.
“Speaking of literacy, we now have all the students in our school leveled so we know where they are with their reading,” said Thomas. “We have started flood reading groups with each grade level and they have a certain time of the day to read. During that time they are assigned an aide or a teacher to read with and then they read on their level. Then they discuss the book and write about it too.”
Those flood times are a half an hour long, but during the day there are also other times that students read. It is set up so if they are reading at their grade level they get a full 60 minutes per day and those below level get 90 minutes a day.
“We try to help students in the school to understand  concerning these reading levels,” said Thomas. “If someone is reading way below their grade level others shouldn’t laugh at them. What we do need to do is help them.”
With the start of the year excitement is high and students are having fun participating in all the activities. This year the school will again be repeating the fish project they did last year with the Division of Wildlife Resources. Next spring the fish in the aquarium in the library will  be taken to the community fishing pond and they will be transplanted.

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