New advisory class seeks to further house system

China Granger

Renowned artist Michael Schwab designed the logos for Redwood’s new houses. Schwab is known for the popular posters of San Francisco that he created for the National Park Service.

This year’s introduction of a new advisory period is expected to help integrate Link Crew’s house system into school culture and toencourage student connections across grade levels, according to Link Crew teachers Erik Berkowitz and Katie Slattery.

The house system, which divides incoming freshmen into either Bridge, Light, Mountain, or Tree House, was designed by Berkowitz and Slattery to break down barriers between grade levels and encourage community building through school activities.

“Seeing all the separation by grade level, it would be nice to follow the Link Crew model of ‘olders’ mentoring and leading the ‘youngers’,” Slattery said.

In its first year, though, the system failed to gain traction with students.

“One of the challenges we faced last year was just that we had a lot of ideas and we set up different lunchtime events, but the turnout was not as high as we were hoping,” Slattery said.

House-related events last year were not met with enthusiasm from students, according to Berkowitz.

“There was no structure in place. It didn’t hold together in a meaningful way,” Berkowitz said.

However, Berkowitz said he hopes that the addition of a new advisory period will further integrate the house system.

“I think the houses and the advisory are going to work hand-in-hand,” Slattery said.

Grade levels that have already entered the system are in advisories grouped by house. All students will also have the same advisory teacher for as long as they attend Redwood.

“Advisory being in its first year, people are excited, but as far as a staff side, there are also some nerves around it just because it’s new and it’s something we’ve never done before,” Slattery said.

Slattery hopes that advisory will get students involved with their houses in the future, but also predicts it will take time for the houses to be fully integrated.

“Anytime you implement something to a school, it takes time for everybody to fully understand and acclimate,” Slattery said.

This year’s freshmen were only the second class to enter the house system and many students were unaware or confused about the system, according to Slattery.

Currently, the only upperclassmen who have been assigned a house are members of Link Crew.

During orientation, freshmen were introduced to the system by Link Crew members from their same house.

Freshmen were also taught a house-specific “rhythms,” a series of stomps, claps and hand motions that could be used during future rallies.

Junior Matthew Johnson, who recently became a Link Crew member, said he thinks that the continuity of the advisory classes would have helped him as a freshman.

“It would have been good to meet some people on the first day of school and then see them again every week for the rest of high school,” Johnson said.

The Link Crew class also hopes to organize house-related activities during advisory later this year, according to Berkowitz.

“Two years from now, the whole school will have entered in with the houses, so it will be ‘normal’,’” Berkowitz said. “When that happens, I think there’s all different kinds of things we could do.”

Berkowitz suggested that rally activities and events traditionally done by competing grade levels could instead be divided by houses, or that there could possibly be a week of “House Olympics” where cups or points would be awarded.

Though not excited about the houses last year, sophomore Haley Johnson said she thinks an Olympics-type activity would engage many of the students.

“When you make things competitive, everyone gets excited,” Haley said.

However, none of the activities are guaranteed to happen.

According to Berkowitz, student interest will play a large role in determining the number and scale of house-related activities.

“So far we seem to have a lot of student interest and we’re just hoping that that continues throughout the next couple of years,” Slattery said.