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The Tale of Four Houses

When ICS students were finally able to come to school after two years, they were immediately met with the thrill of competition.

Although a quarter has passed, it is safe to say that O-Week remains one of the most memorable events of the year so far. It united the high school body through sports, games, riddles, and scavenger hunts; despite it once being normal for every school year to begin this way, the pandemic made everything feel more…miraculous.

What most people don’t know though is that a miracle wasn’t what made this eventful occasion a success. Sure, the easing of protocols ensured that the majority of the competition could be held face-to-face, but there was much more that went down behind the scenes. The Red Guards’ preparation and planning was one thing, but today, we wish to shine a light on the house heads of Silver Staff, Cross Azure, White Scroll, and Green Flame. After all, their role in all of this was hardly a walk in the park.

Rushed responsibilities

With only one or two weeks until O-Week, the select Grade 11 students felt a mixture of emotions when they were suddenly given the role of house head.

“I felt that I was the last choice, that it shouldn’t be me,” CJ Tayag, Silver Staff house head, stated when explaining how shocked he was in finding out about his new position. His co-head Alexis Demiar shared similar disbelief as she couldn’t help but freak out over the unexpected opportunity after simply finishing breakfast.

Meanwhile, Iris Ang from Green Flame and Sofie Dy from Cross Azure both felt excited and nervous. However, they leaned on opposite sides of the spectrum.

“Nobody really prepared us for this type of position,” Iris told us as she talked about the anxiety that crept up on her. Sofie on the other hand focused more on the excitement that she had. She recalled, “I looked forward to leading O-Week since it would be the last time I was going to play for my house.”

The mixture of feelings that initially overwhelmed the heads continued to manifest during the competition itself. Every day, the house heads had to prepare, strategize, and communicate to accomplish their responsibilities while also dealing with the rapid and rather stressful pace of how things were going. Although this was the case, leading students from younger batches and watching them enjoy made the experience uniquely fulfilling. Sofie in particular described everyone’s feelings perfectly when she said, “Although winning would [have made] me completely satisfied, I’d say that it didn’t feel like much of a loss to me since I feel like I’ve accomplished what it meant to be a house head. All of my housemates had a good time and were very interactive with one another, so it just feels nice that we were able to get them so hyped as well as welcomed in the house.”

White Scroll’s Path to Victory

Photo: Joshua A. Agoncillo

Edited by: John Simon Agoncillo

When White Scroll was announced as the champion house of the school year, it felt like some sort of history was made. The roar of applause electrified the auditorium as students jumped in the air and cheered for what seemed like a frozen moment in time. To have a moment of celebration as a student body was beyond meaningful considering the isolation that previously defined our lives. The reaction was honestly well-deserved since the victory marked White Scroll’s second win ever in ICS history.

For the most part, the heads from the other houses were proud and happy for White Scroll. Some felt slightly disappointed of course; who wouldn’t want to win after all the hard work? However, Cross Azure and Green Flame’s heads actually predicted the results before they were announced.

“White Scroll winning wasn't much of a surprise,” Iris said, embodying the others’ thoughts on the matter as well. “I kind of expected it since they placed quite high on most of the games.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the Silver Staff heads were genuinely taken aback by the outcome.

“I actually didn’t have any bets at the time regarding which house would win,” Alexis explained. “[But] hearing that White Scroll won most [if not] all the games on Day 3 made my jaw drop.”

CJ said, “I was genuinely surprised. I thought it was going to be Cross Azure again, but after so long, White Scroll won. I ran over to their house heads and celebrated.”

You might be wondering though—how did White Scroll manage to win the trophy? Well, heads John Sy and Rachel Francisco have a lot to say about the experience.

A Historical Win

John has been in GCF-ICS for quite a while now. Before being appointed as house head, he already had expectations of being chosen as a candidate for the position, and rightfully so, because he has always been an active house member. Most of the time, he would be seen playing physical games like Earthball and Ninja, as these were the games that he enjoyed playing the most.

On the other side of the coin, Rachel was a transferee student during the pandemic. With barely any time to immerse herself in ICS culture, she felt pressured when she found out that she was appointed as White Scroll’s house head. Having to learn the customs and traditions of O-Week in a short amount of time scared her, but her willingness to form new friendships with other ICS students ultimately made her feel excited and determined to give her best.

Communication and teamwork were the keys to White Scroll’s historical win. Both John and Rachel mentioned how they would look to each other for advice on every decision that they had to make no matter how big or small. Not only did they talk amongst themselves, but they also made sure that they listened to their members’ needs and wants in order to effectively lead them towards the right direction. Apart from that, John and Rachel worked hand in hand with their house advisers, Teachers Francis and Rochelle.

Having to carry the leadership roles made John and Rachel feel a sense of fulfillment and stress at the same time. John said, “During O-Week, I didn’t want to pressure myself for being a house head and leader, so I had the “just have fun and do your best” mindset all throughout the O-Week.” Although he had to contact many people that he did not know of, John felt satisfied and fulfilled as a leader because he was able to meet new students and form bonds with them.

Similar to John, Rachel also had a stressful time catering to the needs of the students in different grade levels. Ensuring that all of the house members participated in the games and followed all of the rules were the most hectic parts of O-Week. However, Rachel felt grateful at the end of it all as she said, “However, as O-week progressed, these tense moments were outweighed by long-lasting memories of teamwork and sportsmanship, which hopefully left all of us with a sense of fulfillment.”

Everyone in GCF-ICS knows that White Scroll has not won the House Cup in years. As John and Rachel bagged White Scroll’s second win, they couldn’t help but feel proud and happy for what their house has achieved.

John was used to joking around about White Scroll always getting last place. All of the remarks like, “Oh, we won last place so that you guys didn’t have to” and “At least White Scroll is the most consistent” are things that he was used to saying. Although this is the case, the possibility of winning never left his mind. Just when he thought that White Scroll had no hope left, he ended up playing a huge role in the house’s historical win.

Rachel entered O-Week with no expectations of winning. She said, “I made a conscious effort not to make assumptions or predictions, so winning simply vanished from my mind. John and I just made sure that everyone had fun and gave it their all.” During the announcement of winners, Rachel was seated at the far back. When she heard that White Scroll had won, her entire house jumped for joy, and she couldn’t help but feel so content and gratified. After everything fell into place, Rachel mentioned, “Seeing how happy they were made me happy, and it made me feel like I had done my job as their house head.”

Overall, White Scroll’s win allowed John and Rachel to see leadership in a new light. The importance of taking initiative, confidence, and stepping outside of their comfort zone were all there. However, they both realised that leadership comes in many unique forms, but they all point back to the One who gives them the strength and wisdom to lead.

Shared experiences

Photo: Joshua A. Agoncillo

Edited by: John Simon Agoncillo

The competitive spirits of all houses are definitely present during O-Week, but at the end of it all, the house heads care for and support each other in any way that they can. Even though there were teasing and banters here and there, good sportsmanship was observed throughout the entire event.

The friendships of the four houses are what made the first post-pandemic O-Week successful. The shared experiences of the house members and house heads alike allowed them to connect with one another while engaging in friendly competition.

To say the least, this year’s O-Week is one for the books. At the core of it all, Silver Staff, Cross Azure, Green Flame, and White Scroll will always be a part of every ICS student. White Scroll may have bagged their second win, but the question still remains: Will White Scroll win again next year or will another house step up to the challenge and take their place? Well, we will just have to wait and find out.

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