There is nothing extraordinary about the word “English” itself. It is a language, a nationality and a subject studied in school. But what about the word “transfiguration?” It is a word meaning “change,” it is mysterious and another subject studied in school, though not in any schools around here. It sparks the imagination in a way no ordinary subject ever could, making the idea of learning it seem as exciting as the name. That excitement to learn is something I believe is needed more in schools.
So, as another school year begins, I have converted each of my high school courses into its equivalent subject from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the wizarding school in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. I ask that you bear with my slightly twisted sense of humor as you read on, as some of the conversions require nontraditional logic.
P.E. is now “Flying 101,” but if you’ve got enough talent to make a varsity team, it’s as if you’ve joined a Hogwarts Quidditch team. Congratulations! Dual-enrollment psychology is now “dual-enrollment divination,” where you learn the art of reading tea leaves and crystal-ball gazing. Any foreign language is now “ancient runes” class, and agriculture and health have become “herbology” and “Defense Against the Dark Arts,” respectively. Are you more artsy? Try band or drama, now known as “charms” and “astronomy,” and writers are welcome to intern at the Daily Prophet newspaper (or you could take newspaper or yearbook as an elective).
And for our more daring students (calling all Hermione Grangers!), Jacksonville High School/Hogwarts offers six Advanced Placement classes. AP language and composition is “transfiguration,” and AP literature is now “Muggle Studies.” AP U.S history prepares you for the “AP History of Magic Exam,” but if numbers are your forte, I’d suggest AP calculus, now “arithmancy.” Finally, for those bravest souls, there is AP biology (“care of magical creatures” to young witches and wizards) and AP chemistry (which some may recognize as “potions”).
Under Potterization, the grading of these AP classes will also change. If you are familiar with the current AP system, you will remember that students take an exam at the end of the course (the courses are generally offered in students’ junior and senior years of high school) and are scored with a 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest and most coveted. Similarly, at Hogwarts, students take the O.W.L. (Ordinary Wizarding Level) exams at the end of their fifth year and the N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests) at the end of their seventh, and final, year. These exams are scored with an “O,” “EE,” “A,” “P” or “T” (outstanding, exceeds expectations, acceptable, poor or troll). When juxtaposed, it’s clear that AP is the Muggle world’s less creative version of O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s.
I have created my own private Hogwarts within the walls of Jacksonville High School, and, as a writer, I felt compelled to share it with you. Most will laugh and dismiss my thoughts as the wild imagination of youth; a few will think it a brilliant discovery and maybe even play along for a while, and still others will think me crazy (which probably isn’t far from the truth). Whatever your opinion, what’s done is done, and I can’t retract my words now. So, as I finish with a final flourish, I whisper, “mischief managed,” and move on.
Katie Cline, a student at Jacksonville High School, is a member of The Anniston Star’s high school advisory panel.