Young 'wizards' reflect on popular 'Harry Potter' series, whose final tale premieres tonight at midnight

spauff@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 14, 2011 

It’s the end for Harry Potter.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the final film of the popular series, opens for wide release at midnight tonight. It chronicles the last battle between boy wizard Harry Potter and his archenemy Lord Voldemort, and brings to a close a story that has spanned seven books, spawned eight films, and captured the imaginations of children for more than a decade.

But while the movie posters ominously proclaim “It All Ends,” does it?

Spend some time in Stephenie Brock’s classroom and it feels like the obsession with Harry Potter is just beginning.

Brock runs Basic and Advanced Wizardology, two Activ8 summer camps at Columbus State University centered around the Harry Potter series.

The young “wizards” in the camp range in ages from 8 to 11. Many weren’t born when author J.K. Rowling published the first book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and some are just reading the books for the first time. But they already know the characters, dialogue and even the spells Harry and his friends practice by heart.

Judith Boyd, an 8 year old dressed in black wizard’s robes, says that she read all seven books when she was in the second grade.

“It took me less than a whole year.” Why did she read them so quickly? “Because they’re awesome,” she says, a shy grin spreading across her face.

Judith likes the third book, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” best. “Because it’s awesome. And you get to meet Wormtail, who’s an ugly warthead,” she says, referring to one of Lord Voldemort’s minions.

Some kids in the camp, like Kennedy and Mary Barngrover, were introduced to the series by older siblings. Their oldest sister, now in college, shared the first movie with them.

“After that I watched each movie she’d buy and really liked Harry Potter,” Kennedy said. Like many of the kids in the camp, Kennedy’s favorite characters are Harry’s best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

“She’s smart,” Kennedy says of Hermione. “And Ron’s scared of spiders and he’s funny.”

Skylar Kingsley agrees.

“I like Ron, because he’s always doing goofy stuff,” he said. “His catch phrase is ‘Bloody hell,’ He says it all the time. He’s crazy.”

Kids spend the week in wizard camp making wands and wizard’s hats, discussing the books and movies, and sometimes just running around shouting spells at each other.

“Just remember we don’t have any mandrakes if anyone gets frozen, so be careful with your spells,” Brock warns a group of loud students.

Brock is an avid fan herself -- it never took her longer than a day to finish a book, she says. She thinks the books and movies appeal to children because of Harry, who acts like a normal kid even though he’s a wizard.

“He’s not the smartest kid, not like Hermione,” she said. “He shows that just by being yourself you can achieve things. He’s somebody they can look up to. He shows that you can come from regular circumstances and still be successful and have things work out for you.”

The kids in the camp look forward to seeing the final film, even though they know it’s the end.

“I’ll feel kind of sad,” Mary says.

“But we can rewatch them or reread the books,” Kennedy adds.

Skylar plans on remaining a Harry Potter fan for a while.

“I’ll keep reading the books and go to the Harry Potter website and go to Harry Potter World,” Skylar said. “I might try writing my own little books. When I’m an adult, I want to be an inventor,” he adds, outlining his plans to create a snapping and growling “Monster Book of Monsters.”

He thinks kids in the future will be fans of Harry Potter, too.

“Because they’re just so amazing,” he says. “When the movies come out everyone wants to see them over and over again, and they’ll pass them down generation to generation.”

Sara Pauff, 706-320-4469

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