TROY -- If there’s one thing about Hook Elementary School in which Penny Johnson has always taken pride, it’s the school’s family atmosphere.
This year, the Hook principal is introducing a new plan she hopes will bring students and staff members even closer together.
“We wanted our students to connect with staff members on a deeper level, and really have people and students they could count on in the building,” Johnson said. “So we decided to go into ‘houses,’ kind of like Harry Potter.”
All day Friday, students and staff members randomly drew “house colors,” which will assign them to one of five different houses, or teams, for the rest of the year. Each house will have an equal number of staff members and students from each grade. Students were divided up into yellow, green, purple, blue and orange houses.
Each student will not only attend house meetings once a month during school hours, but also will receive color-coded rubber wristbands to they can recognize fellow house members at a quick glance.
“Our goal is that they connect to adults throughout the building and they see us as a family,” Johnson said. “It’s a good way for students to get to know a teacher they may not have for class and feel comfortable with them. And we mix them up evenly so there’s the same number from each grade on each house. It’s also a great chance for younger kids to get to know older kids and vice versa. How cool is that? Who doesn’t want to feel a part of something awesome.”
The year-long event kicked off Friday at Hook with a “house party,” in which students walked up on stage and, with strobe lights swirling and upbeat music playing, randomly drew their colored wristband.
“It was so fun to see them so excited,” Johnson said. “They were hugging and cheering and dancing and hugging their friends. That’s our goal. To give the kids one more reason to get excited about coming to school. We tell the kids, ‘The color chose you.’ Some kids asked if they could trade, but we told them they were chosen by their color.”
Johnson said eventually all of the students will receive colored T-shirts representing their house. Students who drew colors this year will remain on that team throughout their academic careers at Hook. Next year, kindergartners and new students will draw colors and be added to teams.