‘Harry Potter’ summer course gives new meaning to being a wiz in the classroom
Park View School fifth-graders Maya Patterson and Sheridan Witko, and sixth-grader Jackie Wang, work on a batch of butterbeer during a Harry Potter-inspired summer class at the school. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 6:26AM
A help column in the latest edition of The Daily Prophet offered a young wife experiencing problems with her inconsiderate husband some peculiar advice:
“Dear Hermione, if you are to get through this, I suggest taking away the locket. I suggest asking him why he’s sad or mad. And when you do get the answer attempt to destroy the locket because that’s what I think is wrong.”
To some readers such a response may be more confusing than clarifying, but it makes perfect sense to the pop-culture-savvy muggles in Katie Malooly’s class.
This summer Malooly is teaching Park View School’s version of Hogwarts, the fabled boarding school of witchcraft and wizardry that serves as the primary setting of J.K. Rowling’s epic fantasy-book series.
The hour-long Monday through Friday class gives fifth- through eighth-grade students the chance to bring to life the intricate world of “Harry Potter.”
In class they make their own wands and spell books, and concoct desserts with names like “cockroach clusters.”
“It’s really fun to take project-based learning to the extreme in a class,” said Malooly, who also leads a book-based class on “The Hunger Games.” “It’s been a lot of fun to see the kids just so engaged in what they’re doing.”
Early on a recent Wednesday morning 10-year-olds Sheridan Witko and Maya Harrison were busy working on the layout of wizard newspaper The Daily Prophet, pasting onto oversized sheets of paper hand-drawn ads for “chocolate frogs” and 20-percent-off coupons for broomsticks.
Jose Smith, 11, typed up a police blotter, which had so far included only one incident involving smashed windows in Hogsmead, Britain’s sole all-wizarding village.
The paper’s sports reporter, Christopher Holly, 11, worked on recapping a recent match of Quidditch, a rough albeit popular sport involving tossing a red hollow ball through rings by broomstick.
Holly, whose favorite character is Potter, said: “I like any book that has adventure.”
Action and fantasy are what his peers enjoy the most, too.
Jackie Flamel, 11, is taking the class for the second summer in a row simply because “It’s fun!” as she exclaimed.
Flamel said she actually prefers books on Greek mythology to “Harry Potter”— “I thought it was too scary,” she explained — but appreciated the series for its magic.
“Although I still wonder why they can’t go, ‘Zap! That’s fixed,’ ” she said.
Her favorite project so far was concocting “pumpkin pasties,” a treat sold on the Hogwarts Express trolley. The “butterbeer” they made, though, was “a little too sugary” for her taste.
Jessica Fucik, 13, also enjoyed cooking recipes that please a wizard’s palate. She featured a made-up wizard restaurant that “accepts muggle money” in a comic she contributed to the newspaper: La Luna serves as the spot of evil Lord Voldemort’s lousy speed-dating experience.
An avid reader with a Nook Color at arm’s length, Fucik said the “Harry Potter” novels, in particular, make the imaginary feel real.
“It’s something that takes you out of the real world because magic doesn’t exist, as far as we know,” she said. “When you’re reading you actually feel like you’re part of the books.”
And, placing extra emphasis on the word, “good,” Fucik added: “And they’re just really good books.”