Penn High students transform learning with Hogwarts magic

Published: Sep. 20, 2017 at 4:47 PM EDT
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It's time to get broomsticks in the air as the wizarding world of Harry Potter finds a home at Penn High School.

It's probably around middle school when you start to see classroom decorations disappear and you become familiar with the white walls of higher learning.

So students get quite a shock the first time they enter into Ms. Kayla Peterson's English class.

"The very first day, most kid's reactions are 'Woah!'" Peterson said.

"It was a little overwhelming, maybe," Jacob Brewer said.

"I didn't know what I was getting myself into," Payton Parker said.

"I was like 'Oh, crap!'" Daniel Phend said.

It's one thing to see a classroom plastered with Harry Potter imagery, but a lot of it is practical. You have your bathroom passes to visit Moaning Myrtle, extra quills in case you forgot your pencil, and everyone is sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses based on a personality test.

"My Griffyndors, they'd rather have fun and talk to each other than actually do the work," Peterson said. "My Ravenclaws are very goofy... Slytherins are most about the rules, getting things done... My Hufflepuffs...they're very energetic and outgoing!"

Why do the houses matter? It places students with similar thinking people and each house earns points just like in the books, all leading up to a big feast for the winner.

"It's all across the board," Peterson said. "So all of my classes earn and lose points together. So we get a little bit of healthy peer pressure."

To someone who isn't in the class it may all seem a little childish for high school.

"They just think 'Oh, that's weird.'" Phend said. "Or they think that people who are in this class are all nerds because they like it."

Those who are taking the class say it's a blast and a perfect environment for an English class.

"You know, if you're writing and your classroom is all blank, you look up from your paper and you just see, like, white walls," Brewer said. "It's all boring. But you look in here and you're stumped on ideas, and you look around and there's a golden snake over there. It just inspires you to be more creative."

With wands in hand, the students do end up learning some magic in class.

"Learning is magic," Peterson said. "There's a catch line for you."

Peterson hopes students take that magic with them, possibly into the classrooms with blank walls, to show the real world a little bit of what they've learned from Harry Potter and the English class.

"Words especially are the closest thing to magic that we've got," Peterson said. "And it's really important that we make sure to take those in and apply them to our lives and find ways to make everyday things magical."

Some students said they didn't know anything about Harry Potter before the class. After being in the classroom, they were inspired to check out the book.