By Suzanne Schmidt
LAND O’ LAKES — Shouts of encouragement were everywhere during the 6th Annual House Day at The Academy at the Lakes.
The event brings all the classes together from the youngest in kindergarten to the seniors in high school to do relays, play dodge ball, tug of war and a variety of other field day activities. John Pitcairn, middle division director, said the students learn bonding and leadership skills.
“The idea is to foster community spirit and to establish bonds across all grade levels,” Pitcairn said. “We want kids to have the feeling that the entire school is their school.”
He said the day is also about having some good old-fashioned fun.
“It is another way to inject another element of joy in our journey,” Pitcairn said. “It is one way for us to celebrate together.”
Buck Kramer, fourth-grader, said he likes the competition of the day.
“It is challenging and fun,” Kramer said. “Our house won the competition the last two years in a row and we are hoping to do it again this year. I also really like it when the older kids encourage me to because it gives me courage to do things I wouldn’t have done before.”
Colleen Lopez, eighth-grader, was a middle division team captain at the event. She said she enjoys the house day whether her team wins or not.
“I like how all the houses are working together,” Lopez said. “This makes the little kids day, to be with the bigger kids. They look up to the older kids. They get to hear encouragement and learn teamwork.”
Students in the school are in houses with each house represented by a different bird including kestrel, nighthawk, osprey and peregrine. Each house competed against each other during the field day. During the house day, older students were cheering on the younger students in the same houses.
“It is a mix of competitions where some are for grades in close proximity and some are across all age groups,” Pitcairn said. “The day started with a parade of all the houses similar to the Olympics.”
Building relationships within the entire student community is an important part of the school according to Pitcairn.
“We pair each student with another student in the school,” Pitcairn said. “When a kindergartener first comes to the school they are paired with a fifth-grader and they stay together until the older student graduates. Then the fifth-grader is paired with a younger child so students always have another student they are paired with.”
The school has events for the paired up students to interact throughout the year with intramural sports tournaments in soccer, basketball, volleyball and academic activities like buddy reading days and the academic cup.
“The older kids act as mentors,” Pitcairn said. “They are role models for the younger kids. It helps to break down barriers. It also provides leadership opportunities for the kids at all different grade levels.”
John Gans, junior, helped many of the younger students in his house at the event. He said he thinks it is a great excuse to dress up and have some fun.
“It is tons of fun to cheer on the little kids,” Gans said. “They look up to us. It is good to bond with the kids and mentor them.”
Shirley Leung, senior, was also working to encourage the younger students. She said she was excited to get more bonus points for her team for having good spirit.
“I think it is a great way for the little kids and the older kids to bond,” Leung said. “We are all on separate campuses so we don’t get to see each other a lot. It is a lot of fun.”
Parents get to come out and enjoy the fun as well. Carla Fairchild, parent to Brett, 11, and Natalie, 6, said she loves coming out to watch the field day activities.
“I love it because it brings the whole school together,” Fairchild said. “All the grades get to interact with each other. I think it teaches the children how to work together.”
For more information, visit academyatthelakes.org.
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