Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is divided into four houses, Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. Each house name is representative of the founders last name, Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff.
"It is our choices that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities."
Each house has distinct values that make up the criteria for sorting students into houses. The sorting of students was initially done by the four founders, however, they knew that when they passed the process needed to remain honest, so Godric Gryffindor took off his hat, filled it with brains and the ‘Sorting Hat’ was created. The sorting hat is worn by each new student at the schools annual Sorting Ceremony. Once on the students head the Sorting Hat asses the student and announces the house they join based upon house and student value alignment.
The student house is a big part of student life, the students both live, learn and compete within their house groups. Throughout the year the houses compete for points which go towards wining the annual House Cup. The house competition is fierce, partially between Gryffindor and Slytherin who have a rivalry dating back to the house origins. House rivalry is best demonstrated in interhouse Quidditch matches.
Although houses create some level of separation between the school, it is paramount that all students remember that they first represent Hogwarts as one first and their houses second.
Each house has its own common room, dormitory, its own table in the Great Hall. Houses also have a teacher who acts as Head of House, as well as a House Ghost, who acts as a mouse mascot (house ghosts are all previous house members).