Middle school proposes ‘houses’ to increase unity among students
DARIEN — When some hear the word “house” used in a school setting, it may bring to mind images of private schools or a certain fictional wizarding academy. However, houses may soon be introduced in Darien at Middlesex Middle School.
Principal Shelley Somers proposed the idea of introducing houses to provide a space for social interactions, in addition to the education-focused teams.
“It’s another layer to what it means to be associated with Middlesex,” said teacher Tony Silvi who was part of a committee that proposed this change. “Frankly, we want opportunities for students to interact with each other across the grade level.”
Under the proposed model, students would still attend classes with their teams. In the houses, however, the students would participate in lunches, exploratory activities, trips and team-building activities in order to increase interaction between students across the grade, as well as improve social and emotional transitions. Each house — made up of students in the same grade but from different teams — would also be assigned to one or two counselors.
“I really feel right now we’re disjointed,” Somers said. “Smaller (house) structures will help keep students focused and set firmer boundaries.”
In addition to adding the house structure for next year, Somers and a team of consulting teachers also proposed adding weekly 25-minute meetings with an adviser during a flex period. The teachers also talked about adding common team/house planning time, rotating schedules and a recess option during study.
The school board will hear further information on the house proposal at their next meeting on May 9.
At the April 25 meeting, parents expressed concern about further dividing middle-schoolers, especially at random.
“I appreciate all the work put into it said middle school parent Tara Wurm. “I don’t think thought was given to the idea about randomly choosing students and putting them into classes and teams. Those students often don’t have intellectual peers in with them, which makes social interaction difficult. These children are often overlooked and have issues.”
Wurm added her daughter, a sixth-grader at Middlesex, had wanted to speak at the meeting about how adding houses would further increase cliques in middle school. As the meeting ran past her daughter’s bedtime, Wurm spoke before the school board in her stead.