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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Staff Spirit House program sparks excitement among staff

William Norwood
Science teacher Kristen Thomson performs in the front row of the quad day staff performance.

The administration has taken a page out of the wizarding world of Harry Potter and begun a Hogwarts-like spirit house program in an effort to boost staff participation in activities such as sports games and rallies. 

The program was launched on Sept. 13 by activities director and assistant principal Kristen Cunningham, who first learned about the concept of spirit houses after attending a conference. Staff members have been put into teams that compete for points by attending student-related school events to support students.

“I feel that as the activities director, one of my goals and aspirations in that role is to create a sense of belonging and community for students so that when they look back on their experience they remember it fondly and want to come back,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham collaborated with guidance counselor Brian Safine to create a system in which staff members are randomly dispersed between four groups, represented by the colors red, blue, gray, and white. Participation in the program is not mandatory for staff members, though highly encouraged and many are having fun with it.

Staff primarily earn points by attending sports games, dances and rallies. Points can also be earned through participating in quad-day events. The school decided to honor coaches and class advisers on campus by giving them 50 points to begin with. At the end of the semester, the team with the most points will receive a budget to spend $500 on a prize of their choice. 

Currently, there are 342 instances of staff members actively participating in the Staff Spirit House program. (Staff members self-report the points they earn.) Cunningham and Safine are both members of the red team — named the “Red Renegades” — which is currently in the lead.

Cunningham has already extensively participated in Homecoming activities by collaborating with the spirit commission to pick themes, designing T-shirts and participating in the quad day dance. Wellness center lead therapist Shobha Vaidyanathan, another member of the “Red Renegades” team, has dedicated her time to creating a weekly pie chart that tracks the points of each team.

“Our students spend a lot of time on activities like music, drama, sports, robotics, their club activities, and I think it helps validate a student’s efforts by seeing other community members including their teachers, at their events,” Safine said. ”The Staff Spirit House Program benefits community building, supporting students and builds camaraderie amongst the staff.”

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