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How BASIS DC’s House System Fosters Teamwork and Community

BASIS Washington, D.C. has a unique way of fostering a sense of community among its students.

When students enter BASIS DC in grade 5, they are shuffled into one of four Houses. Students stay in the same House through their entire time at BASIS DC, partnering with other students in their House for school events, competitions, tutoring programs and much more.

Through the House system, BASIS DC students build camaraderie with their peers and develop essential skills such as teamwork and leadership.

“The House system is a key part of making our school a welcoming place for all,” says Calvery Cooper, Director of Student Affairs at BASIS DC and future Head of School.

Here’s a closer look at how the House system works at BASIS DC.

What are BASIS DC’s four Houses?

Originally developed by BASIS DC teachers, the House program at BASIS DC consists of four distinct Houses. Each House has a set of values associated with it. The four Houses students may be sorted into are:

  • Centaurus: Knowledge, Honor, Bravery, Independence
  • Pegasus: Quick Wit, Freedom, Creativity, Power
  • Clio: Tradition, Style, Intellect, Grace
  • Ursa: Strength, Unity, Vitality, Courage

Students are sorted into their Houses upon enrollment, and remain in their assigned House for the entirety of their time at BASIS DC. By remaining in their assigned House year after year, students develop a strong sense of pride for their House and form bonds with other students and teachers in their House.

Unique events and activities for each House

The House system is integral to student life at BASIS DC. Many of the school’s events and activities are directly tied to the House system.

For example, there are numerous inter-House competitions throughout the year. These competitions include dress-up days, essay contests, door decoration challenges, spelling bees, dodgeball tournaments and more. By participating in these events, students earn points for their House.

At the end of each trimester, the House with the leading number of points wins a prize. The prize for the first trimester—which ends around the beginning of December—is usually an outing to an ice skating rink! Additionally, students can redeem their House points for items at the school store.

The House system is integrated into traditional school events, too. At their annual homecoming dance, BASIS DC has a homecoming court made up of students from each House who have exhibited excellent attendance and a strong academic standing. At graduation, seniors are honored with cords in their House color.

These varied activities allow BASIS DC students to build confidence and have fun while showing their school spirit.

Leadership opportunities for students

Similar to a student government, each House at BASIS DC has student leaders. The House leaders represent their peers at school events such as award ceremonies, where they are often given opportunities to speak on behalf of their House.

House leaders are responsible for modeling the values of their House. They build morale with their fellow House members and cultivate school pride.

Additionally, House leaders work closely with the BASIS DC administrative team on a variety of school initiatives. Ideas for upcoming school events and future extracurricular offerings often come directly from the House leaders!

Building connections across grade levels

Thanks to the House system at BASIS DC, students have plenty of opportunities to socialize with their peers in different grades. Many of the House events include the whole school, from grades 5–12. Additionally, BASIS DC’s peer tutoring program is organized by House. Older students who are interested in becoming tutors are matched with younger students from their same House.

The Houses at BASIS DC play a crucial role in creating a welcoming environment for all students. By interacting with their Houses as part of daily life, students are able to forge friendships across grade levels and learn from their peers.

Director of Student Affairs Calvery Cooper says one of her favorite things about the House system is that everyone is able to participate. “The Houses mix together students of all ages and all interests. Everyone is able to get involved, and everyone is a valued part of their House’s community.”

There is no denying that our Washington, D.C. campus does a fantastic job when it comes to school culture and community!

Are you interested in enrolling your child at BASIS DC? Learn more about BASIS DC and join our interest list. The lottery window for the 2024–25 school year has passed, but you can complete a post-lottery application by visiting the My School DC website. Lottery applications for the 2025–26 school year will open in late 2024.

Amy Licht
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