Students enchanted by Harry Potter camp at Lawrence Arts Center

Arts Center offers classes to students on days off

Colton Smith playfully falls backwards as he is zapped by a spell from Noah Cachiguango during a Harry Potter Dance Adventures class at the Lawrence Arts Center on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010.

Alex Baldwin spent his Thursday afternoon casting spells, fighting wizards and playing Quidditch. With two days out of school, Alex, a fifth-grader at Broken Arrow School, left the classroom to enter the world of Harry Potter.

Alex and eight others transformed from students to wizards Thursday — and will again on Friday — as part of a Harry Potter out-of-school day camp at the Lawrence Arts Center. The center provides classes for every out-of-school day, ranging from music and dance to printmaking and painting. During parent-teacher conferences this week, the center offered seven classes to about 100 students.

Molly Gordon, instructor of the Harry Potter Dance Adventures class, said she hoped to teach basic concepts of movement — time, space and energy — while having fun. Gordon said her third- through sixth-grade students provided all the creative inspiration.

“They decided the scenes, they chose the props and they choreographed the movement,” Gordon said. “It’s really a great concept because it gives them something fun to do while out of school and gives them the ability to explore and create.”

The students’ creative exploration translated into an adventure-based obstacle course dubbed “Harry Potter Through the Years.”

When the music started, Rheanne Walton, third-grader at Quail Run, placed the Sorting Hat on her head to hear her chosen house, hopped through Diagon Alley where she chose her wand, practiced casting spells, took a ride on the Knight Bus, disguised herself with the invisibility cloak and played a quick game of Quidditch before joining the others at the final battle against the dreaded Death Eaters. The course was made up of hula hoops, chairs with draped blankets, trampolines, mats, tunnels and other props, but it was the real thing in Rheanne’s imagination.

She enrolled in the class for two reasons.

“I like Harry Potter and I like to dance,” Rheanne said. “I chose this class because I get both in one.”

Noah Cachiguango, fifth-grader at Sunset Hill School, has watched all the Potter movies and has read all the books.

“If I was at home I would just be watching TV and if I was at school I’d be doing math,” Noah said. “Here I get to cast spells and do something fun.”

Students used their imagination to come up with their own names, spells and wands among other things. Alex’s spell of choice was “tornado wind” and “back stab.” Parents will get a chance to see the spells performed first-hand during an informal performance this afternoon.

Susan Tate, arts center executive director, said the goal behind the out-of-school-day classes is to offer children a connection to the arts. She said the classes are a sort of vacation from school, but still allow students to grow — in confidence, creativity, imagination and thinking.

“Innovative thinking is the most important thing we can teach to students,” Tate said. “We try to be an incubator for ideas and creativity, both for students and teachers.”