The nine residential houses at King’s Academy are a central part of boarding life, with roughly 400 students, 45 faculty members and a handful of faculty cats and dogs residing in them.
Each house is gender segregated and includes common rooms, kitchenettes, laundry facilities and shared bathrooms. The students are each allocated single bedrooms along a hallway of 10 to 20 rooms and a faculty member lives in an apartment at the end of each hallway to act as dorm parent. Student proctors are sprinkled throughout the hallways for additional leadership.
It is in these hallway structures where students learn to live in close proximity with one another and to share a living space and its common facilities. They learn to live alongside others with different backgrounds, viewpoints and interests, and to understand and respect their differences. They also make close friends – some are old friends with whom the bonds have grown tighter, but others, unexpectedly, are new. Each hallway inevitably generates a distinct culture of its own, depending on its constituents (including the faculty member) and their group dynamics. As a result, the “house,” a collective of these interlinked hallways, also produces a unique character for itself.
Even in the young history of the school, each house is beginning to establish its own traditions, quirks and sense of pride. For example, Nihal is known for its theatrical prowess, while Meissa produces the annual staff and student Arab-style BBQ. Murzim has a pink zebra (Murzebra) as its mascot, while Alnilam is nicknamed “The Castle.” Post-study hall dance parties spontaneously erupt in the Atair common room, and Sulafat produces a distinct energy of its own. As time goes by, there seems to be an increasing sense of pride for one’s residential house.
Over the years, these houses will be sure to take on a life of their own. New students and faculty will maintain the strong house traditions built by their predecessors, while also creating new ones. Graduates of King’s will, perhaps, continue to wear their house pride on their sleeves and talk to one another about which house was (or still is) “better” than the others. Ultimately, the hope is that the house structure will create sub-communities within our larger residential campus that will warmly provide a much more tangible sense of belonging to its diverse members.