This Is Our House: Oak Knoll Launches Historic House System

During the first and second weeks of the 2023-2024 school year, Oak Knoll unveiled and launched a new “house system” — which sets a historic precedent and will give students a joyous tradition for playful competition and familial pride for generations to come.

Thanks to Harry Potter, most Americans are undoubtedly familiar with the concept of houses. The book series frequently references the British boarding school practice of assigning a house name to student groupings based on where they live, then using these house groupings and a point system to encourage friendly rivalry across many aspects of student life. Houses may gain points through spirited competitions in sports, the arts, academics, community service, cultural and social activities, and more.

A house system builds community, engages students in campus life, develops leadership skills, and strengthens relationships across all grades and interests. A house system can also assist in welcoming new students, bolstering school spirit, encouraging a sense of belonging, and increasing a healthy sense of identity within the wider school community.

Prior to the start of school, all faculty and staff were sorted into houses. During the first week of the school year, Upper School students were sorted into their respective houses, and the same took place for Lower School students in the second week of school. The four Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child houses are named after important places in the life of Cornelia Connelly — founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ). 

They include:

  • Rosemont House: named for Rosemont, PA, where the American Province of the SHCJ is located.
  • Mayfield House: named for the Old Palace of Mayfield, in Mayfield, England, which Cornelia purchased and restored into a church before welcoming students in 1872.
  • Sussex House: named for St. Leonards on the Sea, which was where Cornelia lived the longest and often referred to as “the dearest of all places on earth.”
  • Towanda House: named for the first school founded in America by the SHCJ in 1862.

Each house has a house characteristic (drawn from one of the seven Holy Child Goals), a house quotation (drawn from the many wise sayings of Cornelia Connelly), and an associated school color.  Each house also has several faculty/staff house leaders and eventually student leaders. Houses may also develop other ways to express house pride, such as banners, chants, and cheers. Siblings will always be added to the same house so that alumni can continue to root for their respective houses over the years, and families can continue to experience a joint sense of house pride.

This year’s implementation of a new house tradition will be considered a significant milestone in the history of Oak Knoll. The four Oak Knoll houses will also bolster the People pillar in our new Strategic Plan, which calls us to “be an inclusive environment where all members of the Oak Knoll community can celebrate their intended purpose to make a significant, positive impact on the world,” and to “Cultivate meaningful relationships among community members, including opportunities to strengthen connections as a PK-12 institution.” 

Let the games begin!

Oak Knoll School and City of Summit officials pose for a phone in front of a pedestrian safety signal.Picture of Board Chair and wife in front of crest