The House Decision Experience

Samuel Wang ’26 (Features Associate) in Features | May 10, 2024

         As the school year winds down, rising III Formers anxiously wait to find out which House they will call home for the next two (or even three) years. The House system at Lawrenceville is a beloved institution that fosters camaraderie, community spirit, and a unique, memorable experience. According to the Lawrenceville website, the Circle and Crescent are the heartbeat of everyday life for all Lawrentians and “[bring] students together, [foster] community and [promote] leadership, inclusion, and cooperation outside of the classroom.” 
         With the conclusion of prefect selections, rising V Formers are ready to embrace the final chapter of their Lawrenceville journey. Those who competed for the leadership position, faced a pivotal decision of whether to remain in their current House, serving as mentors for the rising III and IV Formers, or enjoy living with the rest of their class in V Form housing, forging friendships through living with the entire grade and making the most of their last ride together. 

         Ryan Bian ’25, an incoming Raymond House prefect for the 2024-25 school year, applied for the position because he watched those close to him experience “not fitting in [and feeling] homesick,” experiences which reminded him of his own reality when he first arrived at Lawrenceville as a new III Former. He wanted the role of prefect in order to help soothe the transition for the new Lawrentians joining the community in the II Form. 

         For new III Formers entering in the fall, however, the process of being assigned to one of the 11 Circle and Crescent Houses remains uncertain—the entire operation is shrouded in mystery. Zain Broady ’26, a current resident of the Cleve House, remarked that “before coming to Lawrenceville, the House system certainly left a particular impression, but [he] had no idea which House [he] was going into or [even] how the system worked.” 

         Cleve Head of House Eduardo Hernández explained that “right now, [rising III Formers are] filling out a form to indicate who they want to be [in the same House as].” Besides that, a team of faculty members also “place[s] people together based on their family legacy and the goal of balancing the interests of a house.” Hernández also revealed that “the Heads of Houses are actually not involved in the placement decisions of [III Formers] at all.” 

         Nevertheless, the placement system could be much more structured, transparent, and balanced for newcomers. Hernández disclosed that there have been ongoing discussions among faculty about implementing a longer and more comprehensive survey to better match students to Houses based on their interests and personalities. 

         This updated survey would ask new students about their extracurriculars, school leadership experience, sports commitments, and general interests. These additions to the form, spanning beyond who they want to live with, allows the placement system to build well-rounded Houses so that students can thrive and learn from multiple new perspectives by interacting with Housemates from various backgrounds. 

         For current Lawrentians, the expansion across the different Houses is a signature part of the residential experience that builds long-lasting bonds and fun rivalries, ultimately shaping their years at the School. For students joining after the II Form, there are certain unknowns which must be faced as they enter a brand new community. As a result, having a chance to catch a glimpse into the celebrated House system that anchors student life ahead of time could help ease the pains of the adjustment period. 

         As Robert Lee ’26 puts it, “Starting a new school in a new environment is hard enough...knowing upfront what to expect and having an opportunity to articulate your interest could make a big difference for new students in finding their perfect place from day one.”