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05 January . 2021

Elyson’s McElwain Elementary has House System inspired by Harry Potter

At Elyson’s McElwain Elementary School, the owl is more than a mascot. This wise bird is also the inspiration for a new House System modeled after Harry Potter and borrowed from the acclaimed Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.

Part of the highly regarded Katy Independent School District, McElwain Elementary opened in August 2020 as Elyson’s first onsite school.

Shortly after the beginning of the school year, every student was assigned to one of six Houses representing the many positive characteristics of the owl, such as wisdom, commitment and honor.

Display of House System in use

The students received their House assignments, which they will keep throughout all grade levels, at a “reveal” ceremony near the beginning of the year. Because of social distancing, the reveals were done by PowerPoint presentations, complete with virtual balloons and confetti.

Elyson sponsored the House T-shirts that each student received, in one of six House colors such as pink, orange, yellow and green.

T-shirts in house colors

Mary Rice, the school’s counselor, explains that students were matched with Houses based on the characteristics the staff had observed during the first weeks of the school year. Every staff member was also assigned to a House.

McElwain Staff

“The House System is a great way to build a positive school culture and create a sense of community across grade levels, especially at a brand-new school like McElwain. It’s also a proven way to promote character development,” Rice said. “Whether students are in kindergarten or fifth grade, the House System makes it easy for them to bond and make new friends.”

Back of t-shirts

The system also promotes friendships and sharing across the Houses. Each classroom at McElwain includes about 3-4 members of each house, and each grade level contains about 20 members of every house.

Elyson House T-shirts

Each House has a shield, designed by VLK Architects, who will also create large House banners to hang from the school’s main hallway.

House names in other languages

The House names represent languages from countries represented by the McElwain student body. Impegno, for example, is Italian for Commitment, and Udumo is the Zulu word for Honor.

Every House also has a motto that summarizes its characteristic, such as “Together is better” for Comunidad (Community), and “When life gets hard, never give up” for Azim (Perseverance).

points bulletin board

Each month, students from all Houses are invited to wear shirts of a certain House color, another way of creating community throughout the school. Rice said that when social distancing relaxes, McElwain students will also take part in schoolwide assemblies that include fun games and challenges.

McElwain principals

While he’s not Harry Potter, the namesake of McElwain Elementary is still pretty awesome. Meet him at our blog.