House systems within schools have a rich history originating with English boarding schools where students lived in houses with one another sharing studies, meals, and competing against other houses for a prestigious award. Petra’s house system has expanded over the years from one house to eight, with the underlying purpose of creating a similar atmosphere of camaraderie and competition. In doing so, students learn to live out Petra’s mission statement: “Recognizing our need for God’s grace, Petra strives to awaken love and wonder by teaching our students to observe with humility, think with reason, and articulate with charity for the flourishing of humanity and the renown of Jesus the Christ.”
Elias Denison serves as Petra’s Housemaster, exercising oversight of all the houses, house activities, and house competitions. Each house has been given a name from King Arthur’s court: Avilion, Bedivere, Enid, Excalibur, Galahad, Gawain, Nimue, and Pendragon and has two prefects who oversee house meetings, assist the Housemaster, and help to organize the students throughout the school year. The prefects meet with the Housemaster every other week for leadership training, scripture meditations, prayer, and to discuss upcoming events. The houses meet on a weekly basis to engage in activities, competitions, and discussions.
Throughout the course of the school year the students engage in competition that earn points for Petra’s House Cup. There are four primary competitions:
Athletic: students compete in tournament style matches that include a variety of athletic skills such as archery, running, or various ball sports.
Artistic: students study virtues within their house meetings and are challenged to create visual art that captures that particular virtue. Submissions can include sculptures, paintings, photographs, or drawings with winning entries placed on permanent display.
Academic: students compete in small teams to complete challenges that test their mental acuity. These challenges can include math, spelling, trivia, Mensa puzzles, or SAT prep questions.
Dramatic: students put together dramatic presentations of well known poetry, prose, or music and perform them for the rest of the student body.
Ultimately the goal of Petra’s house system is to vertically integrate students by encouraging them to interact with other students outside their respective grade and to horizontally develop leadership, camaraderie, and respect among their peers. The house system also leaves room for service, creativity, and team-building as students engage with one another throughout the week.