ROWVA Central Elementary is getting organized.
ROWVA Central Elementary is getting organized. Friday (Sept. 1) morning, starting at 8:30, the school had a sorting event for its new house system in a rambunctious ceremony, complete with a strobe light and blaring intercom music.
The school — which teaches children from Rio, Oneida, Wataga, Victoria and Altona — gathered students and staff in the gymnasium. Students cheered enthusiastically as they were called forth several at a time and then sorted into one of the six “houses.”
The school has hinted at this new system in previous weeks, uncovering fictitious “time capsules” with letters from the rural schools that combined in fall of 1949 to form the original ROVA, as well as one from Wataga, which left Galesburg schools to join ROVA in 1987, changing its name to ROWVA in the process. Colors of the six houses also had begun to appear throughout the school.
“Since we came across these letters, we wanted to tie them into our story today and make up some houses you all will be part of,” Principal Kerry Danner told the students, before they were called forth to be sorted into their houses.
The houses of the selected students were announced via a projector. The Kidz Bop version of Flo Rida’s “My House” and Sister Sledge’s classic “We Are Family” played on repeat, and teachers and students danced at the six sections of the gym that stood for the six houses.
This house system was created by Ron Clark, a well-known figure in education. Students will meet in their houses monthly, and will be used to help build “soft skills” like leadership, confidence and compassion.
This isn’t the first area school to use the system. Nielson School in Galesburg began implementing it in 2015 for its fourth- and fifth-graders. ROWVA’s administration and teachers actually became aware of the system after a presentation by Nielson teachers, who then helped ROWVA implement the system in its schools.
The houses are all named in different languages, ranging from Greek to Spanish to Mohawk. The six houses represent the five schools that combined to form ROWVA, along with a sixth house meant to represent ROWVA itself. For logos, the houses repurposed the old high school mascots, like the Rio Rockets.
While these different houses represent different local communities, students and staff were sorted with a random number generator, not by region.
“Our focus is really to have these kids develop friendship and compassion for each other,” Danner said, adding, “we’re very excited and very thankful for Nielson for their help with it.”