New student activity emerges from successful mentor program that connects upper and lower grades
By Bill Brewer
Sacred Heart Cathedral School’s sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders are setting up residence in four new houses thanks to a strategic plan being implemented by Principal Daniel Breen and the SHCS faculty.
Dubbed “Matthew,” “Mark,” “Luke,” and “John,” the new houses won’t be competing for real estate with the Cathedral now under construction. These “houses” have been set up in the middle school classrooms and are an extended mentor program for the students.
Akin to the Hogwarts School’s four houses in the Harry Potter series, SHCS middle-school students must adhere to four pillars for their houses to be successful: fun, spirit, service, and community.
It’s an effort to create a close-knit community within the middle-school grades that is focused on service to the Holy Spirit through activities that are spirit-filled, entertaining and educational.
The mentorship program began in 2015, and the house system is a step in the development of that program. As part of the mentorship program, 20 mentorship groups are small gatherings of students from grades six, seven, and eight that allow the mentor to get to know students well in a smaller setting through prayer, activities and discussion. Those discussions include students’ lives at school and ways to grow in charity toward one another.
In the house system, each mentorship group is assigned to one of four houses, named for the evangelists. By engaging in fun, spirit, community, and service, the students and mentors will form new friendships and find opportunities to engage in acts of service to others.
“A year ago Sacred Heart launched a mentorship program in grades six, seven, and eight. The house system comes out of the mentorship program. We wanted to explore how we can do more to be more charitable toward one another in our daily lives. So we decided to extend the mentorship program to the house system,” Mr. Breen said.
Now with the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John houses, more students can do service projects as teams.
Mr. Breen said he has seen the house program at work at other Catholic schools and was influenced by those programs, noting that the students gather in their houses monthly.
“The mentorship committee and I saw some real opportunities,” Mr. Breen said. “The more you can allow students to feel like they belong and the more you have a group facilitate that feeling the better. There are so many things we’ll be able to do together, such as corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and to become prayer warriors.”
The Sacred Heart faculty spent the first half of the current school year planning the roll-out of the program, which was launched during Catholic Schools Week in late January and early February.
Students were surprised by the house program announcement and were excited at getting new T-shirts made in the colors of the four liturgical seasons that they can wear to school.
“The day we rolled this out was one of the most fun days we’ve had. It has injected an exciting dynamic in the middle school,” Mr. Breen said. “I would say the house system is here to stay. It fits well into the middle school and will be something for younger grades to look forward to.” ■