History of the House System at CDS

An evolution of spirit and fun

The Country Day School was once home to bands of Turtles, Snakes, Porcupines, and Beavers. These were not real animals; rather, they are the names of the very first Spirit Houses during the 1970s and 80s.

Sheila McCutcheon, a longtime teacher in the Junior School, remembers early dismissals on Wednesday afternoons so that children in Grades 1-8 could participate in fun House events: “Peter Taylor was the driver behind the naming of the original Houses. He was a big supporter of the First Nations of Canada and chose these names to honour them.”

As a student in the early years, John French ’75 remembers the creation of the Houses coinciding with a hole digging competition. “Mr. Taylor split the student body into four teams to dig a hole in the back yard. The animal names and subsequent competitions evolved from there.”

Now, years later, our House system is named in honour of our two founding families (Moffat and the late Margo Dunlap and Edmond G. and the late Daphne Eberts), the second Headmaster of CDS (Robert Ross), and a beloved founding teacher (Peter Taylor).

When the third Headmaster, Paul Duckett, arrived at the School in 1989, CDS was in transition from an elementary school to becoming a high school. The Senior School had opened in 1986, but still hadn’t graduated its first class. The cute animal names, which had served the School well, did not sound very ‘adult’ to the Senior School students.

Some discussion ensued as to whether to keep the Junior School Houses separate from the Senior School, or approach it from a one-school point of view. The latter option garnered the most enthusiasm with regards to the House system, and Mr. Duckett remembers arriving at Dunlap, Eberts, Ross and Taylor fairly quickly:  “They seemed the obvious choices. It was a natural part of the evolution of the School at that time.”

So began the renewed protocol of the CDS House system, whereupon every student (and staff member) is placed in a House upon entering the School. They are given a given a T-shirt in their House colour (green, blue, red or grey) and quickly develop a House allegiance. Students have opportunities throughout the year to earn points for their House, always vying for the House Cup in Middle/Senior School and the Rogers Shield in the Junior School.

As for our original animals, the symbolic versions can now be found in the Junior School entranceway circling, at least graphically, the Rogers Shield, established to commemorate the Junior School House that achieves the most points each year. Truth be told, the real life versions can still be found in the Back 40!

Kim Sillcox
Director of Marketing & Communications

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