While browsing Wikipedia this evening, I came across the article on the “house system” used especially in boarding schools, and it reminded me of the houses we had at my school.
As the article says,
In the case of a day school […], the word 'house' refers only to a grouping of pupils, rather than to a particular building. The two houses at ISH were “Hansa” and “Galleon” (and I think they were usually enumerated in that order); as best I recall, pupils were randomly assigned to one or the other. I believe I was in Galleon.
I think Hansa had the colour red; I don’t remember which colour Galleon had (blue?), nor which symbols, if any, the houses had.
The names were presumably derived from the location of the school: the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Hansa referred to the Hanseatic League, or Hansa (German: Hanse) and Galleon presumably to the ship type (though I associated “Hansekogge” with the Hansa, i.e. cogs).
As best I remember, essentially the only significance was in sports; occasionally, we’d split up by house to play a game, and I think we could also gain points for our house by doing well in sports (surpassing a kind of “par” score for whatever the event was). I think a year-end game was also officially Hansa vs. Galleon.
On the whole, though, it was a rather negligible part of my school experience.