NEW BRITAIN – The halls and classrooms of a local middle school were transformed this week to replicate a famous school of wizardry for a two-day Harry Potter-themed celebration.
The House of Arts Letters & Science (HALS) Academy celebrated being named No. 1 for middle schools in Connecticut by U.S. News. Last week, each homeroom received wax-sealed letters inviting them to the “Hogwarts School” for classes in Magical Creatures, The Chemistry of Potions, History of the Wizarding World, The Music of Harry Potter and Arithmancy contests to win the Tri-Wizard Cup.
Principal Leona Clerkin, who dressed up as Professor McGonagall, said students were invited to dress up as characters from the film or in the colors of their Hogwarts house. Clerkin said many of the students at the school enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series. She decided it would be a treat for the student to celebrate the accomplishment, on the holiday week leading up to Thanksgiving.
“We wanted to do something like a fun day for the kids, where it's still engaging, there is some component of learning but also a little bit of social emotional support,” Clerkin said.
For the two-day celebration, students participated in themed lessons and “potions” inspired science experiments. Clerkin said teachers worked to integrate the themes from the book and film series into their content area. Students participated in digital breakout rooms that were Harry Potter-themed, played a version of Quidditch in the gymnasium, and in music class used the music from the films to create parodies.
Eighth grader Analize Jones participated in an art class where students made drawings of creatures they worked together to create.
“It’s nice to have a break from school work and just have some fun,” Jones said.
The New Britain Youth Museum and Hungerford Nature Center provided live animal demonstrations with a variety of animals to a classroom of students. Each animal had links to the film as well, like a komodo dragon representing a “dragon,” and other animals like snakes and rabbits. Clerkin said she had reached out to the center to schedule for someone to visit the school during the celebration.
“They miss having us come for field trips but they’re able to come here which is outstanding,” Clerkin said. “The kids have responded so positively to seeing the animals. They’ve been so excited these past two days.”