(TODAY SHOW) – Imagine preparing to start the third grade when a mysterious letter arrives in the mail. You open it up to find that you’ve been accepted to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Well, a pretty impressive elementary-school version of it, that is…
Tressa Bargella, a teacher in Pennsylvania, spent more than 70 hours preparing the classroom for her children in the spirit of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” books and movies. The results are pretty impressive.
The 25 students in Bargella’s class at Valley View Intermediate School in the town of Archblad love it.
“When they first walked in, their eyes were huge. Their mouths were open. They didn’t know where to look first,” Bargella told TODAY. “It was really cool seeing their excitement.”
The young ones each received a Hogwarts-style admission letter (hand-crafted on parchment paper) and a train ticket with their orientation packet.
To make her classroom engaging and fun, the inventive educator decorated it with a faux-fireplace, house elf socks, an owlery, floating candles (to resemble Hogwarts’ Great Hall), and even a quirky class pet: The Monster Book of Monsters.
The room would have any Rowling fan in awe.
The project was a labor of love for Bargella, who admits that she spent almost her entire summer crafting and creating things at home.
“Once August came around, I spent the majority of the last few weeks in the classroom working 12 hour days,” Bargella said.
She estimates she spent at least 70 hours decking out her classroom, not counting the time she spent shopping and making things at home.
Bargella, who taught kindergarten for 13 years before transitioning to third grade two years ago, paid for the decor with her own money, relying on crafting supplies from Amazon and flea markets and yard sales for things like old suitcases and other trinkets.
Judging from her students’ reactions, the effort was well worth it. She said some of her students didn’t want to leave after the first day of class!
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Students are given glasses and wands on the first day of school, and Bargella also has a sorting hat, a magical wizard’s hat that sorts students into one of four different Hogwarts houses. (She even plays sound effects through her classroom’s Bluetooth speaker to add to the magic.)
On the wall are inspiring quotes, including one from Potter that reads: “Working hard is important. But there is something that matters even more: believing in yourself.”
“The magical aspect piques their curiosity, but it’s so relatable,” she explained. “Harry struggles with a lot of the same things an eight- or nine-year-old struggles with, like bullying, home life, and friendships.”
Plus, Bargella adds, the themes in Rowling’s hit series are things we can all incorporate into our daily lives: “Bravery, loyalty, friendship: All of those ideals are on every page.”