By Kate Bunster
NISKAYUNA — After seeing the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in any of the “Harry Potter” movies, it’s pretty difficult not to look at your own school and yawn.
But on Oct. 23, Rosendale Elementary brought all the excitement and magic of Hogwarts to life during its “Hogwarts Holiday” event. Leading up to it was a week of Quidditch tournaments during gym class, beginning Oct. 19. (Quidditch is a game played in the Harry Potter Series, with seven players riding flying broomsticks and four balls: a Quaffle, two Bludgers, and a Golden Snitch, which are thrown through rings.)
In this modified version, the kids were given lacrosse sticks and a ball, which they threw through hoops hanging from the gym ceiling. Kids were sorted using a “sorting hat,” just like in the movie, which told them which team they would be playing on. Every time a team scored through the hoop, they were rewarded 10 points for their house toward winning the Quidditch cup.
Additional points were also awarded for positive behavior throughout the week, such as good listening, displaying positive sportsmanship and encouragement. Students were competing for a real trophy, which was awarded to Hufflepuff, which scored 43,980 points to win
Friday’s “Hogwarts Holiday,” was complete with its very own potions room, a forbidden forest, a face-painting station in the “room of transformations,” a magic show and additional games of Quidditch in the school gym, led by physical education teacher Jo Ann Sabourin.
Sabourin had been speaking during the morning announcements all week in order to get the kids excited for the event, relaying quotes related to teamwork from the “Harry Potter” series and playing quidditch music through the loudspeakers.
Based on the turnout, she clearly got the message out successfully. In fact, the Rosendale parking lot was so full many people had to park on the grass and some even at Iroquois Middle School. There were so many children who wanted to play Quidditch that there was a line out the gym door. “Slytherin’s gonna win! Slytherin’s gonna win!” the kids shouted as they waited their turn to take on the other Harry Potter “houses” with their friends.
The first Quidditch matches at Rosendale were held in March 2000, an idea that came from former Rosendale parents. One of them was former PTO Co-President Ann Moore, who asked Sabourin if a game of sorts could be played during a family fun night.
“I suggested ‘perhaps we could play volleyball … different grades come at different times and even play with their parents,’ ” Sabourin recalled. “She asked ‘can we play Quidditch?’
Sabourin, who was not familiar with the game, asked Moore about it, who handed her a copy of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” with a post-it note on the pages that described the game.
“After I read several pages I thought, ‘Sure! We can play Quidditch!’ ” Sabourin began to formulate a “Rosendale” version of the game, which was complete with homemade “golden snitches.”
“Our Quidditch matches have encouraged a love of reading. I’ve been told by so many students that ‘my Mom is reading Harry Potter to me Miss Sabourin’ or ‘I’ve now read all of the books!’ ”
Since March 2000, there have been a couple of changes made to the event in order to reinforce additional lessons. For example, for third- to fifth-graders, score sheets have been added for tallying points. This helps them build on their math skills. In addition, kids create posters, which enforce team spirit.
This year, additional bonus hoops were added to the court, which were hung higher than the rest of the hoops (thanks to the custodial staff) and had nobody guarding them. The kids could score in the bonus hoops when the Quidditch music was played for 100 points. “The kids loved it!” said Sabourin.