By Mrs. Nichole Smith
Montverde Academy of Wizardry, one of MVA’s specialty summer camps, gave students the opportunity to express themselves creatively while exploring their inner wizard before finishing off the week with an immersive experience at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. This was certainly a week that students will never forget!
Ms. Marca Hoyle, an MVA Upper School social studies teacher, and Mr. Oshae Hicks, the EA Sports Academy Coordinator at MVA, both served as counselors for the camp and coordinated the week’s activities. After spending time getting to know one another early in the week, students bonded with each other as they discussed what their “animal familiar” would be and made their own magic wands using a wooden base and modeling clay to create different designs. As the clay was drying, they participated in a scavenger hunt and acquainted themselves with the campus, referring to the Jörn M. Kreke Science Building as “the potions lab.” The students who do not normally attend MVA were amazed at the similarities between MVA’s campus and the campus at Hogwarts, everything from some of the students and faculty living on campus, to the prefects, the bell tower, and the mystical ospreys flying around. There is definitely no shortage of things that contribute to the wizard aesthetic.
Being swept away by the magic of the campus, they quickly discovered their love for MVA’s iconic oak tree that adorns the courtyard, a place where they chose to linger instead of returning to the classroom right away. Ms. Hoyle said through laughter, “Their favorite thing was sitting in the tree.”
As the week progressed, more and more students brought in their own props, costumes, and wands. They studied Defense Against the Dark Arts, which involved learning spells and wand motions. They even made their own spell book and did mental puzzles, mazes, dueling games, freeze tag (with wands), Disillusionment & Seek, transfigurations, a quidditch tournament, and a host of other activities like making potions.
Students wrapped up their week on Friday with a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. Following the narrative sequence of Harry Potter, they began their excursion at Diagon Alley where they went shopping, rode a few rides, and ate lunch at the Leaky Cauldron before taking the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade. “They got to do their shopping and exploring, and they probably ate more sugar than they should have in one sitting,” said Ms. Hoyle.
Ms. Hoyle and a few of the students at the camp have encyclopedic knowledge of the Harry Potter series, while others were just beginning to love the series. Coming together and bonding over their shared intense interest was an amazing experience for Ms. Hoyle and all the students. “I like being able to provide a space where kids, whether they’re in high school or middle school, whether they’re teenagers or younger, can feel comfortable being themselves and being in whatever they’re into and expressing that,” said Ms. Hoyle.
“They were so comfortable with each other by the end of the week and so excited – they had found their people.” Ms. Hoyle loved how the students had the agency to fill in their down time when it was raining outside with an impromptu stage play and a rousing game of chess. “I see that in my year classroom of having that safe space where they can share their ideas on what they think and also explore those things.”