When several St. Rita students returned from the Student Augustinian Values Institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they had a great idea.
The Student Augustinian Values Institute (SAVI) is a three-day trip where students from Augustinian schools throughout the world gather to share what makes their schools similar and to learn about their differences. One of the goals of SAVI is for students to bring a feature of another school back to their own school. The students at St. Rita of Cascia High School thought it would be a great idea to start a “House” system at their school. Some other Augustinian Schools were utilizing this system and it sounded like an ideal way to unify the school, introduce some friendly competition between the students and create a support system for their fellow Ritamen.
Little did the students know, members of the faculty and staff of St. Rita were at the adult version of the Augustinian Values Institute (AVI) with the same assignment. When the faculty and staff returned to Chicago from their trip, they knew they were on to something when they discovered they had the exact same idea. And so, the House System of Student Government at St. Rita of Cascia High School was born.
The House System is widely used in British schools and schools that model themselves after the British system in countries with past British colonial ties. The system began in boarding schools, where students actually ate, drank, and slept in individual houses during school terms. The house system still operates this way in prestigious schools throughout the world.
There are numerous benefits schools have traditionally seen in using the house system. It is designed to encourage and increase competition between students and to create a supportive environment. At St. Rita, the house system will have many benefits. The houses provide not only an increased feeling of identity and belonging, they also provide students with a sense of tradition and abundant leadership opportunities. With the establishment of the houses, constant encouragement for students to do their best will be prevalent, as well as positive attitudes toward one another. St. Rita of Cascia High School has eight houses. Each house will be led by four student government members, one from each grade level. The Head of the House is a member of the faculty who moderates the house. Each house is named after a Rita “Legend”; a person who made an impact in the school’s 107-year history.