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Local wizards enter muggle world: Middle schoolers share love of Harry Potter with Reflections course

February 14, 2014

Mackenzie Mahler / The Courier - West Central Middles School's Dumbledore's Academy teaches MC.

Swish and flick! Every great wizard knows this is the key to performing a good spell, and several West Central Middle School students are among the best. Dumbledore’s Academy, a club created entirely by West Central students, visited Monmouth College on Monday to share their unique perspective with students enrolled in the Harry Potter: Philosopher’s Soul integrated studies course.

“[The students’] enthusiasm for Rowling’s series was palpable… Here were middle school students who had fallen in love with reading along with the series (or maybe the love of reading came first) and were making a world of imagination and friendship at their school,” said assistant professor of philosophy, Anne Mamary. “When I think about the students at Monmouth College who take the Harry Potter course, I feel lucky to have the chance to spend time with young adults who have a similar passion for the series, for reading, for imagination.”

The young students’ creativity and imagination was evident throughout their presentation. Dumbledore’s Academy is the invention of West Central student Connor Hill. He fell in love with the Harry Potter series and wanted to do something that would bring the series to life.

“We have made it all on our own and designed it to be fun and educational,” said West Central student and “headmaster” Connor Hill. “We have plans for a high school version of the club too. Also, we want to get into other concepts about the books and look deeper into the meaning and message of myths… The club is a great place to have fun and learn about something we all- love Harry Potter.”

Members of Dumbledore’s Academy – a less combative version of the name “Dumbledore’s Army” that appears in the series – do everything from dueling to making potions. The students showcased some of these activities in their presentation. To duel, the students use a long spring and each participant holds one end. The goal is to use “spells” successfully that will cause the opponent to lose points. The students created all of the rules and point system for dueling, according to the club’s advisor, Tamyra Rankin. “The students come up with everything themselves; I’m just here to unlock the science room and drive the bus.”

In addition to dueling, the West Central students created their own potion recipes that turn common ingredients like bananas into magical items like fairy guts. All of the recipes are edible, and the students work to see who can follow the recipe the closest.

“I thought it was a really great way to see kids getting involved in the reading more and taking it to a different level,” said junior Amanda Kaus. “It’s not just basic reading anymore. It’s making the books come alive and actually getting them involved in the reading.”

Mamary saw the potential benefits that these middle school students could bring to the college classroom. “I thought it would be great for the two groups to meet each other and to have a chance to share their experiences, for the middle school kids to see what it might be like to reconsider the books in college and for the college students to see the creativity, determination, and courage of their young peers.”

Dumbledore’s Academy is a part of an after school program at West Central Middle school and is currently working on producing their own newsletter.

Mackenzie Mahler
Copy Editor

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