By Marisa Patwa

The Warrick County Standard

Middle school students at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Newburgh were given a magical surprise the first day back from winter break when they were sorted into a new "house," similar to the Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor houses of the acclaimed "Harry Potter" franchise.

Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade were surprised on Thursday, Jan. 3 with a break from their normal classes to head down to the arena, where they slid down a bouncy house slide before being sorted into one of six different houses -- Substantia, Sanctus, Prex, Salvare, Gratia or Redimere.

Principal Elizabeth Flatt said the houses are the product of her brainstorms with other middle school administrators and teachers, seeking a way for the middle school to be better.

"If you read the 'Harry Potter' books, you might recall that the houses at Hogwarts were both the living and learning communities for its students," she said. "The goal of our houses is to embrace teamwork, sense of belonging, mixed grade-level interaction, relationship building, camaraderie and faith development."

Similar to the houses at the fictional wizarding boarding school of Hogwarts, each house at SJB has its own color scheme and house shield. They'll also have their own charity.

Flatt said every Wednesday, the eighth grade students will lead house time, which involves activities and team building.

"Our eighth-graders will be the leaders of the houses," Flatt said. "And they will build commerdiare and encouragement and just make the kids excited."

But most of all, Flatt said the houses are all about letting the kids have fun.

"We want to make the kids excited for school," she said.

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