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Woodland’s House System Connects Generations

House System teaching Woodlands Community about rich Sacred Heart History

Sacred Heart schools have a rich history, and here at Woodlands, we embrace those who have devoted their lives to furthering our education. The founding mothers of the Sacred Heart are Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, Mary Aloysia Hardy, and Jane Erskine Stuart. We are reminded daily of these empowering women through the Woodlands House Program. Based on a personality quiz, students are placed into a house and determine which sacred heart goal best aligns with them. House Barat aligns with goal 1 – personal and active faith in God. House Duchesne aligns with goal 3 – a social awareness which impels to action. House Hardy is goal 5 – personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom. House Stuart aligns with goal 2 – deep respect for intellectual values. These goals are the foundation of the house system, which each member embodies. 

Each Wednesday, the community is presented with a House Challenge in which each member can participate to receive house points. These challenges aim to bring the community together in a fun way, such as teacher trivia, photo challenge, or singing a Christmas carol to a head of house. These points are tallied up at the end of the year to determine which house wins for that year. The house system is a fun way to remind students of the school’s history and add fun challenges during dense academic weeks. Still, it also allows students who might not cross paths to get to know one another and for upper and lower classmen to commingle. 

Alumnus have even been involved in the House Systems. Mary Faith Cook and her old classmates took the Which house are you? Quiz. Cook said, “I’m in house, Hardy. I love how Woodlands is connecting the current generation of students to my generation and our founding mothers’ generation. The House System is a lovely way to make the close-knit Sacred Heart Community even closer.” 

Since the community has a deep connection with the Sacred Heart goals and history, we wanted to ask different house members how they live out their house goals every day. Head of House Barat, Mrs. Brysiewicz, says, “Goal 1 is about bringing love forward, promoting positivity, and inclusiveness. I try to use these values as a model for my life. We even incorporate these values into our house time. Such as writing little notes and spreading them around the school; this is a small way to make people feel accepted and loved.” Morgan Fitzgerald, a Dushcense member, says, “I live by goal 3 in and out of school. I participate in service projects in school and am a part of the Best Buddies club. Outside of school, I participate in COR, a youth group at my parish, learning about the inequities around us and giving back to those who need it more.” Mr. Guo and Madeleine Lillis are both members of House Stuart. Mr. Guo says goal 2 is “Enjoying the learning process, which involves making mistakes, taking chances, and being patient.” Lillis says, “Helping others with their homework is one small way I live out goal 2 in my daily life.” Judith Koukol, House Hardy member and Secretary, says, “Time management is a big part of goal 5, reminding myself to ensure I’m not waiting till the last minute for assignments. Woodlands helps with this, such as offering free periods, which allows me and others to work on being responsible.”

Although the House System has only been around for a few years, it has made a long-lasting impact. “The house system creates a sense of community,” said Lillis; Fitzgerald added, “As a Freshman, I’m able to connect with the upperclassmen, which is great!” Koukol talks about the community being more connected: “I’ve gotten to know freshman and sophomores more than I would have before, and I have also been able to see teachers in a different light.” Mr. Guo talks about how the house system has given him a role in the community outside of class: “It gives me an identity and connects me with the goals; I aspire to live out all the goals, but it helps that I can focus on goal 2, and that is the one I resonate most with.” Guo connects it to the bible verse Roman 12:5: “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” “Each house makes up a body part. We each play our own role, but when we all come together, it makes up the whole body, which is our community.” Mrs. Brysiewicz explains how she can get to know the whole community better: “Helped me feel more connected to a wider range of the school, I got to know more of the underclassmen since I mainly teach upperclassmen, and getting to know other teachers gives you a reason to connect with a wider part of the school.”

Woodlands, as mentioned, has a rich history, and the House System educates the community about the history but on a deeper level. Mr. Guo explains how he can relate to Mother Stuart; she inspires him as an educator. “It helps me connect to what she has done; her different quotes are helpful regarding education.” “There are two ways of educating: one, to give heart, mind, energy, everything to working for the children – doing things for them. The other is to try to teach the children to work for themselves. And this is the higher of the two.” – Jane Erskine Stuart. This is one of the many quotes Mr. Guo inspires him. Fitzgerald, Lillis, and Koukol all agree that the masses held for Barat, and Duchesne educated them about the history of the Society of the Sacred Heart. Mrs. Brysiewicz explains how it has helped to close that age gap between our founding mothers. “I’ve learned a lot more about Hardy and Stuart; it’s been cool to hear more about those later Nuns doing more things in modern times and how they are similar and closer to us.” 

The House system is one of the many unique experiences at Woodlands. It is not only a fun way to connect with the community or add some friendly competition to the day-to-day life at school. It also connects the students (and former students) to the women who created the Society of the Sacred Heart. 


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