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Definition of a House


Boys playing soccer

Intramural Sports

Photo © Stephen Rainer
Definition: What is a house? A house is a grouping of students in most American private day schools. In residential or boarding schools a house is a dormitory or residence where students actually live. The term comes from the English boarding school tradition. Each house has a dorm master or mistress in charge of it. This is usually a teacher or other staff member who lives in an apartment in the building.

Another way to think of a house is as a school within a school. The essence of the house system is that it provides structure, socialization and discipline for students. Private school houses have their own traditions and rituals which are meant to foster stability and respect.

Membership in a house is determined by some formula which has probably been used for decades. Typically houses are balanced by age level and/or grade. Houses are widely used in intramural sports to foster healthy competition among the students. The house with the most points at the end of the academic year usually wins some sort of trophy or prize.

Find more terms in the Private School Glossary.

Hathaway House is located on the East Campus of Milton Academy.
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