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Wizardry a whiz at College for Kids

August 09, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Cassidy Zimmerman, 9, said she had no idea Harry Potter had so many fans in the Tri-State area until she started attending a class about the books and movies last week.

Cassidy, a fourth-grader from Greencastle, Pa., was one of 15 students who took "The World of Harry Potter," a weeklong class at Hagerstown Community College that is part of the College for Kids Program.

"I knew there were some, but not so many," Cassidy said of the number of fans.

She has made some good friends in the class, she said. The students in the class ranged from third-graders to fifth-graders.

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She said her favorite part of the class was when participants went to a computer lab to look at about 15 Internet sites related to the Harry Potter fictional stories, including an official Internet site by J.K. Rowling, the author of the books.

Jessie Thwaite said she usually only gets to discuss the books with her mother, Sheila Thwaite, who also reads them.

But in the class, Jessie said she was able to talk to others about how the books and the movies based on them differ. She prefers the books because they are more detailed, she said.

"It is fun because we get to talk about things and what other people think," Jessie said.

On Wednesday, teacher Aubrey Phambo taught the students how to make the black pointy hats worn by some of the characters in the stories. Phambo, of Mount Airy, Md., teaches first grade at Clear Spring Elementary School.

Later, she read aloud some of the students' favorite parts of the books. Some of the students wore their hats as they listened, entranced, to her.

In addition to having fun and bonding over their love of Harry Potter books, the students are learning lessons, Phambo said.

They learn arts and crafts, Phambo said, as they make wands and hats.

They also learn about devices in literature, including character development and foreshadowing, Phambo said.

Phambo said she has taught four classes at College for Kids, but the one about Harry Potter is her favorite because the students are so interested and attentive. It is the fourth year the class about the teen wizard has been offered at the college, she said.

On Friday, the students performed "Spellbound," a play that uses characters from the Harry Potter series. The students practiced for the play earlier in the week, Phambo said.

While students auditioned for some of the parts, only one student, Carl Thomas, 8, a third-grader, volunteered to play Harry Potter.

He said he would be good for the part because he, like Harry Potter, has brown hair, Phambo said.

But Thomas on Wednesday said he was nervous about playing the starring role. Overall, though, he said the class was great fun.

The play went off without a hitch, said Dawn Reed, a parent of one of the students.

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