Four Houses at SCIE



Throwback to a year ago when I first came to this new campus, the metallic grayish architecture “shocked me,” this school seems so dull under the shadow of such a boring color. What caught my attention and alleviated the stress of the admission test is the flag with four vibrant colors. Why is there a dragon in blue, a bird in red, a Tiger in yellow, and a tortoise in green? My curiosity started to develop when I heard the story of four houses by one alumna.


Azure Dragon (Water), White Tiger (Metal), Vermillion Bird (Fire), and Black Tortoise (Wood) are the four symbols of our four houses. With their existence in Chinese ancient folklore, they own the name of “Auspicious Beasts.” People believe they have connotations with mythological creatures appearing among the Chinese constellations, mainly because of their shape.

Meanwhile, the four guardians incorporate the five elements of Taoism that compose the essence of life: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire (Four houses), and the Earth (the school). Ancient beliefs and scholars suggest that the five compete with each other, but they also depend on each other.

In the Campus

For people, especially those who are not born and raised in Chinese traditional culture, the four auspicious beasts seem undepictable, incomprehensible, and profound. But as you walk into our campus, you will soon find them in every corner, even within the invisible spirits of our minds. This creates a united atmosphere here: we are in different houses, but we are not against each other. Everyone in a different color of house uniform composes the whole school. In the meantime, we compete for our house, we try our best to defeat others, we display our endless passion, and we gain pride.

As a house captain, I am always enthusiastic in participating in every house competition.

The sport that gains my strongest preference is frisbee. Like any popular ball game,  it provides the players with tension and swiftness and also leaves the audience with a fantastic visual experience. Corporation is considered to be the best technique in this game, and our team did a good job. We yelled at the court to demonstrate our amazement at our teammate’s precise catch, but meanwhile, we did not lose concentration on this game. One of my proudest moments was when I jumped high and patted the frisbee with two fingers, even though my hit was not harsh, I successfully created a disturbance. Joining and performing well in a house competition will bring you unforgettable memories and a sense of achievement.

My football skills couldn’t be worse. It is almost my worst sport. Without enough members in our house, I have no choice but to cooperate with my talented mates. The only thing I have here is the encouragement they gave me, so I did well in the defense spot. After the match, I had indescribable pride and enjoyment, as during the house competitions there are many situations like this: the sport that we are completely unfamiliar with and unskilled. But those unpredictable matches bring you attempts and challenges. We don’t have to be petrified by failure, or discouragement. Behind you, unlimited support is always there.

Every Wednesday afternoon owns my greatest expectations. With an afterglow sparkling on the court, I held my camera, standing in the best spot close to the edge, trying to capture the best figure of the competitors and record the dramatic movements. Dodgeball is a subtle game that you will never forget. A player fetched a ball from the ground, held it tightly behind her back, and suddenly smashed it onto the opposite player who was unconscious of this stealth attack. However, nobody here is afraid of being defeated, after being hit, players crossed the field to the baseline, and started the new round of fierce strikes.

The audience atmosphere along with continuous shouts and applause is rising high. Although my camera is nearly out of battery, my whole body shows reluctance to leave this court. Later in the night, I went over those photos one by one. Some were blurry due to the rapid movement, and some were trash photos, but my fondness forces me to keep them all. Every photo includes an athlete to display their strength and power, but more with the charisma of sports.

Our mottos display our spirits and unique house cultures, we “burn them all” using the blaze of fire; “golden glow” reflects the luster of metal; water spirits are generated by “hydropower”; and in the woods “we grow together”. Like the flag, students wearing red, yellow, blue or green house uniforms walk around the campus like little moving festival bulbs, which light up the school.

When celebrating annual festivals, each house is competing fiercely to present its characteristics. You can never get to know them from hearsay or describe them in single words. Being a member of it truly brings you a phenomenal experience and helps you build a primary framework of who the houses really are.

Last Christmas, my friends and I joined the grande fiesta by starting to watch the Christmas tree competition. Sparkling stars, and delicate ornaments, are being hooked up carefully to their best positions. The Wood house hangs light green balloons along the woods, best coordinated with their name and culture. However, my eyes were caught by the fancy candy canes and golden stars- the luxury of the Metal house. Moreover, by putting marshmallow-like cotton down the tree, the water house creates the fluffiness of snow that only existed in the nordic regions. Students in the firehouse even built a track around the branches of the tree, a train is running on it, just the same as that in the movie Northern Express. There’s no spotlight, but the lovely moment is spotted by photographers and framed in photos at this moment, leaving endless memories in every alumni’s mind.

Four unique styles and four different houses, together compose the diverse SCIE.