St. John Neumann Catholic High School House Co-Captains are seen Aug. 16 in front of the Bosco Cup in Naples. (COURTESY)

House program at Neumann teaches leadership skills

Naples  |  The house program at St. John Neumann Catholic High School is in its second year and there are eight new senior “house captains” learning what it takes to serve others.  Who are the others? All of the student body who are broken down into four different houses to foster participation, caring and loyalty. On Aug. 16, new freshman and transfer students learned which house they were assigned. 

The House Program is a modified form of student government.The four houses embody the Naples school’s Catholic charism: Devereux House is named after a young man who was a missionary in Africa; Mazzarello House for St. Mary Mazzarello, foundress of the Salesian sisters that serve at Neumann; de Sales House is for the saint from whom the Salesian religious orders take their name; and Raley House for Shelley Raley, a beloved teacher who passed away in 2018. 

“Houses are evenly dispersed based on sports, academics, etc.,” said Grant Wojcik, co-captain of Devereux House. “That means within each house, all personalities exist, and everyone has a chance to do something for their house and excel.”

The first year of the house program improved communications with the students, increased school spirit and student participation, especially at non-required, after school events.

Rhea Hussey, co-captain of Mazzarello House said the house has become a support system between the students and for the students.

Matthew Culbert, of de Sales House, said it was the leadership last year that made him want to apply for House Captain this year. “I admired the ones before me that did this,” Culbert said. “Stepping up is a good thing. You can make a difference and help change things for the best.”

The process to become House Captain was rigorous and included teacher recommendations, approval of the dean, essay questions and a panel interview with faculty and staff, which are themselves assigned to a house. 

“I was not really involved in the school so for me this was a conscious decision to help myself and other students become more active,” said Samantha Hussey of Raley House. “I can relate to those that are not involved, and now I can change things to make school the best place to be.” 

There are two senior captains for each house, a boy and a girl. As Rhea Hussey (no relation) points out, the house captains are themselves a very diverse group: “Every idea and suggestion get questioned and discussed before we reach a decision.”

Students wear their house colors every Tuesday. Competitions of all sorts are done throughout the year as each house vies for the annual Bosco Cup. 

“We want every student to participate and enjoy themselves beyond their expectations. No regrets,” said Samantha Hussey.

Neumann Principal, Sister Patricia Roche, Salesian Sister of St. John Bosco, summed it up best: “Within the house, every student can shine, and that is our school theme this year, ‘Radiance.’”