Cardinal Newman sorting hat helps students adjust

A student listens to the Sorting Hat at Cardinal Newman School in Columbia
A student listens to the Sorting Hat at Cardinal Newman School in ColumbiaCOLUMBIA—Seventh graders recently received an introduction to Cardinal Newman School straight out of the pages of the popular “Harry Potter” series.

On Aug. 16, they took part in a sorting ceremony to place them in the school’s house program, now in its third year.

In J.K. Rowling’s Potter books, students at Hogwarts School rely on the talking Sorting Hat to decide which house they will live in at the school. Cardinal Newman’s brown suede sorting hat, voiced by one of the drama teachers, allocated more than 90 seventh graders into houses designed to familiarize them with junior high.

“Houses give seventh and eight graders an identity of their own within the school,” said Laura Chambers, dean of student life and chancellor of the house program. “Sometimes in the middle years, you’re in limbo land, and this helps our seventh graders make a smooth transition. We try to give every house students with a different combination of interests and gifts.”

The houses are named for seven doctors of the church, dynamic saints whose lives and writings left indelible marks on the faith: Sts. Augustine, Teresa, Thomas Aquinas, Anthony, Catherine, Bonaventure, and Isidore. The program’s goal is to build understanding and camaraderie among junior high students, and help them with team-building and leadership skills. A faculty member and eighth graders who serve as captains lead each house.

Houses have an equal number of seventh and eighth graders. They meet daily for lunch and during free time, and compete in academics, sports and fields during the year. The winning house gets a prize and the House Cup. In past years, winners visited Carowinds and went whitewater rafting.

McCarley Maddock, 13, was excited to begin eighth grade as one of the house captains for St. Augustine.

Aquinas House members celebrate after a student is selected by the Sorting Hat  to join them.
Aquinas House
“I love the house program because I feel like it really brings seventh and eighth graders together more,” Mattock said. “I love all the games we do, and it’s fun to get together and meet new people you might not otherwise get to know. When I was in seventh grade, it was helpful to know the eighth graders were always willing to point you in the right direction and help you with whatever you needed.”