New program at Thorsby boosting positivity on campus – The Clanton Advertiser

By Carey Reeder | Personal editor

Thorsby High School welcomed a new program to its campus this school year in the House System.

Built from a program at Ron Clark Academy in Georgia, Thorsby students in grades 7-12 have the opportunity to choose a group activity to help promote a better environment.

Rebellious students are divided into three different houses – Wisdom, Devotion, and Kindness.

Every other Friday during the lunch period, students will meet their respective groups for House Wars, and can earn points during these times which are added to the student’s specific houses.

Students can choose which group they want to join with over 10 different activities to choose from including art, athletics, journaling, gardening, and prom.

Students can also earn points for attendance and grades, but can also get points taken away for disciplinary issues such as detention or suspension.

Every nine weeks, the house with the most points wins a party and 15 bonus points to use in the class chosen by the students. At the end of the year, the house with the most total points will get half a day to throw a party instead of afternoon classes.

“Our high school administration team was trying to find ways to encourage students, improve attendance, and also increase student scores,” said Bridget Caton, House System chief of staff. “We try to encourage students to have a motive to do well.”

The idea behind House System was presented to the Thorsby administration at the end of the last school year. Some Thorsby administrators have traveled to Ron Clark Academy for ideas on how to maximize the Thorsby High School House Wars experience.

“We were 100 per cent for it,” said Holly Matson, vice-principal at Thorsby High School. “(Cato) took the lead in all of this, and we can see from the outside looking at the results.”

The gardening group is building a garden behind the school between two buildings for the students to use as a playground for seniors. The artistic group is planning an art exhibition that will take place the same evening as the talent show.

Since the start of the school year, staff at Thorsby can see positive improvement at the Rebel campus.

“I think it fostered the school spirit and positivity,” Caton said. “Last year’s talent show, the spirit of the school was amazing. It was one of the best days, and this year we’re going to open it up to parents and the community.

Some of the students in the other group can get involved in inspirational films where students watch films and discuss them as a group. The cooking group learns to prepare different types of food and earns points for their house by making specific recipes. Athletics play games in the gymnasium, help tend sports facilities, and can earn points for attending rebel sporting events.

There is also a prom planning group, a tutoring group, an interior design group that helps decorate the school hallways and bulletin boards, and a group that produces the school newspaper.

“I like the different houses and the different things that students can choose from,” Matson said. “I feel like that’s a pretty good list of interests that every kid can find something they’d like to do.”

The purpose of House Wars at Thorsby was to give students motives to do well and stay out of trouble. At the end of the first year of the program, staff can see that the environment on campus is improving and hope that the growth of the program will continue in the next school year.

“It’s also about community, but also about fun,” Caton said. “Most students think school is boring, so it’s a way to incorporate academics and fun.”

Ryan H. Bowman