RANGELY I Parkview Elementary School’s third annual Night at Hogwarts saw its highest turnout to date as approximately 350 children and adults, including families from Meeker, Vernal and Grand Junction, attended the fundraiser Friday night.
Money brought in from the night of Harry Potter-themed classes, shopping and attractions totaled more than $6,000, up $1,600 from last year’s profits. As in past years, some funds will be rolled into next year’s event while the majority will be distributed among participating teachers for school supplies, equipment and field trips.
Meeker resident Natosha Clatterbaugh and her two daughters, Reese, 8, and Raegan, 5, arrived at Parkview just before the doors opened at 6 p.m. Clatterbaugh had seen photos of the event on Facebook and thought the girls would enjoy Hogwarts, especially as Reese had just finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in J.K. Rowlings’ hit series.
Before they went in, however, Clatterbaugh offered the girls a word of caution.
“I had warned the girls not to expect too much because it was a local event at an elementary school,” she said.
The advice proved groundless, as the Clatterbaughs discovered after staying busy for the full three hours of the event.
“We were blown away,” she said. “There were so many fantastic details and activities for Potter fans,” she said. “Everywhere we looked, we saw details from the books: floating candles on the ceiling? Check. Ministry of Magic entrances in the bathroom? Check. Butterbeer and chocolate frogs? Check. All of our favorite characters? Check. An absolutely magical evening? Check! It was worth the drive over from Meeker, and we will absolutely make this an annual family event.”
Roughly 30 teachers and staff members, along with several community members with ties to the school, brought Hogwarts to fruition. The majority not only set up booths and activities Friday and cleaned up after closing, but they also put in substantial work months ahead of time.
This year, despite the preparations, organizers had little time to break or breathe as people flooded both floors of Parkview to buy Butterbeer and magic tricks, join ghost bubble classes, touch pythons and take on Chasers in games of Quidditch.
And this year, much-needed help came in the form of 30 Colorado Northwestern Community College students from psychology/sociology instructor Jessica Kruger’s classes.
Ostensibly, they came for the extra credit she offered for pitching in. But Kruger also wanted them to practice altruism, think about children’s brain development and observe kids socializing—all concepts her students have been studying in class.
“To me, this was a service learning opportunity, and both the students and the community got something out of it,” Kruger said. “Along with applying what we’ve been studying, the students worked on interacting with kids and adults and really listening to instruction.
“I also liked that we were relationship building between our school and the elementary school and that the college students were being good role models for the kids,” she said.
Organizer Cheri Smith, who coordinates Hogwarts with second-grade teacher Vicki Douglas, said the extra help couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We’d love to keep encouraging the college to support us because those kids were amazing,” she said. “We may need more help in the future. Those of us who are really involved will probably start setting up Thursday after school so we have that extra half-day to get ready.”
For now, with another year of Hogwarts under their belts, teachers, staff and helpers can use the coming days to savor memories of Friday and take a welcome break.
Which doesn’t mean, if Smith and Douglas are any indication, they’ll stop thinking about how to make Hogwarts even better next year.