August 31, 2018

A luggage cart is pressed up against a faux-brick wall marked Platform 9¾ outside Tressa Bargella’s third-grade classroom. But instead of using the platform to board the Hogwarts Express and be transported to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, her Valley View Intermediate School students just have to walk through their classroom door. Bargella spent 80 hours this summer turning her Archbald classroom into a scene straight out of J.K. Rowling’s popular fantasy series, “Harry Potter.” The seven-book series begins when Harry, a young British orphan, learns he’s a magical wizard accepted to Hogwarts. On Aug. 23, Bargella posted photos of her classroom on Facebook. The post went viral with more than 139,000 shares, 100,000 likes and 500 comments. Two United Kingdom publications, including The Daily Mail, wrote about her classroom. The district moved Bargella from kindergarten into third grade last year. Always one for a theme, she loves Harry Potter and started incorporating the story into her third-grade lessons, something she wasn’t able to do with her younger students. Bargella read the books, watched the movies and visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando alongside her 20-year-old daughter — wearing Hogwarts robes and magical wands at the ready. For her, Harry Potter is timeless; it’s entertaining but full of hidden messages, magical but also about personal development and friendships. Before the start of school Monday, Bargella used parchment paper to recreate Harry’s Hogwarts acceptance letter and mailed them to her new students. Inside her classroom, candles appear to float from the ceiling — like in Hogwarts’ Great Hall. Gray brick wallpaper wraps the walls like the inside of the castle, and magical iconography from the story adorns every inch of the classroom. The school’s beloved headmaster Albus Dumbledore even has a presence — his advice hangs on the walls. Harry Potter is incorporated into all the third-graders’ lessons, and students follow along with Bargella as she uses an English accent to read from the books each day. “They love it,” she said with a laugh. The magical feel of her classroom has students excited for school, which is always a challenge, she said. “It’s the easiest transition my kids have ever had,” she said. Bargella loves crafting and do-it-yourself projects. She paid out of pocket for the decorations and noticed her class has fewer behavioral issues. “Anything magical and mystical, it piques their curiosity,” she said. Brian Durkin, intermediate school principal, said it’s great to see one of Valley View’s educators getting positive attention for all the wonderful things they are doing. “Her idea to incorporate Hogwarts into her classroom is fantastic,” he said. “It makes it very exciting for her students to come and learn.” Contact the writer: kbolus@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5114; @kbolusTT on Twitter

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