Remember that scene from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone during which first-year Hermione Granger gets sorted into Gryffindor House? The whole room waited quietly and intently for the Sorting Hat's decision, all eyes on her. When it announced her house, cheers erupted from the Gryffindor table.
The staff at Prairie Rose Elementary remember that scene. Friday, they used it to set the mood for community members' very own sorting ceremony, part of its annual leadership day.
Students at Prairie Rose are sorted randomly into one of six houses (Reveur, Amistad, Isibindi, Altruismo, Travail or Phantasy) at the start of their third grade year during a sorting ceremony. They remain in those houses until they leave the school.
That day, community members entered the school's gym to uproarious cheers and took their seats in the bleachers. It wasn't a pep assembly - though there was plenty of pep.
They walked through an aisle between crowds of kids seated with their houses cheering them on. The guests chose a bag and pulled out Hawaiian leis, the color of which corresponded to their new houses. They were welcomed excitedly by their new housemates and learned their houses' cheers.
Prior to the sorting, guests chose a student club to spend time with and learn about. Then they each partnered with a student who showed them their leadership notebooks.
"The notebooks are where they track their progress, their successes, their goals and how they've achieved them or how they're working toward them over the course of the year," said teacher Michelle Kovash.
First grader Hayden Hepperle's notebook includes a chart for his absences (he's only had one so far this year), an all about me page, a chart for progress on his NWA reading and math scores, both of which he's improved upon, and the stories he's written.
Guests learned about students' wildly important goals and how to create their own from a video.
"It requires you to focus on less in order to accomplish more. You start by selecting one wildly important goal, or WIG, instead of trying to work on a dozen goals all at once. ...
When we choose a wildly important goal, we've got to find the most important objective that won't be achieved unless it gets special attention," the video said.
Hayden said his two WIGs are getting better at counting and math and getting better at football.
Community members also participated in a student-led house meeting, after which they asked questions of the Student Lighthouse Team.
The Student Lighthouse Team is comprised of a third, fourth and fifth grade elected student from each house.
Lorraine Zettel, president of House Travail, described for the guests the experience of being chosen to represent her house on the Student Lighthouse Team.
"This year, I love how they sorted us into a group to make us feel like a family, and then that family gets to choose three representatives to kind of lead their house," she said. "It was a great honor and a great experience for people like us to get nominated because we worked really hard and we really were looking forward to it. I'm sure everyone agrees with me when I say it was kind of like being named, basically, president."
The Student Lighthouse Team is responsible for planning and running house meetings.
"We kind of help staff members make decisions about school, like last year, we had a voting box about the new playground," Lorraine said.
Erin Martin, secretary of Isibindi, said the team also hosts fundraisers and brainstorms ideas to make the school better.
Most houses have a house project meant to benefit either the school or the community. House Travail started a recycling program. Altruismo held a canned food drive. Reveur is implementing a Take a Book, Leave a Book program for kids who can't afford books. Phantasy is in charge of the lost and found and will donate any unclaimed items at the end of the school year. Isibindi raised money for Pennies for Patients and organized Stuck for a Buck. In the latter, for every dollar a student donated, the student received a piece of tape to help tape Principal Nicole Weiler to the wall.
"I actually was really excited about that," Lorraine said. "I'm really glad that Isibindi had that idea because - when we were in there, when we got started, everybody started chanting, 'Tape Ms. Weiler! Tape Ms. Weiler!' I could tell the school was really excited about it, and it was really exciting to see how all the school was on the same page about the same idea to help kids that have sicknesses. It was a really fun way to raise money for that."