Accio Book Love!

Let’s do a book drive.

It’ll be easy.

How hard can it be?

All of these thoughts and more set us off on our whirlwind journey that was Accio Books, Central Florida Slug Club’s very first act as a bonafide Harry Potter Alliance chapter.

Except we weren’t yet a chapter (mostly due to my unknown technical difficulties, or Computer Granny status, whichever); and in the midst of kicking off, organizing, advertising, collecting, and rooting for our cause, we were also biting our nails while we wished to become a real chapter. Where’s the Blue Fairy when you need her?

The start-up of our Accio Books campaign was relatively painless, considering we only had one month in which to complete it. Find a recipient in need of books. Check. Find a location in which to leave a magical collection trunk. Check. Make Fliers. Check. Advertise and beg for books. Check. Check. Check.       

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(The collection trunk that we left at Winter Park Public Library. Flier designed by The Harry Potter Alliance graphics team and altered for the Slug Club by your Hufflepuff HOH Melissa!)

It’s not that I ever thought that I would be totally on my own in this endeavor, but the support of the Heads-of-Houses and other prefects has just been out-of-this-world amazing! They have been astronomically essential to the success of the campaign and I can’t thank them enough.

One Sunday at the beginning of May all three Heads-of-Houses and I gallivanted around Winter Park and tacked up book drive fliers (okay, we asked some businesses politely), and they didn’t even laugh at me when I ordered tofu on my dairy-free pizza at Mellow Mushroom, and we didn’t laugh at Stephanie’s mega-awesome lollipop…okay, we laughed a little bit (with her).

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  (The balloons outside of the Sassafrass candy shop represented each of the houses present. An omen?)   

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 (Our Flier in the window of Sassafrass Candy Shop!)

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(We were all totally jelly of her lollipop!)

 

Yes, there were times that the campaign felt overwhelming, especially as the deadline drew closer and our chapter status still hung in limbo (by the way, we totally became a real chapter, no wishing upon a star required, just a Heather Fairy ;-)). I admit that there were moments when I questioned my ability to head up this project and how I would do for future projects. I also sometimes questioned the necessity of the book drive, especially when I made the mistake of reading a hate article directed at used books which claimed that donating them only unloaded a burden upon the recipient. And from that seedy article bloomed doubt. No, that couldn’t be, our recipient was happy to hear about our book drive in their honor, weren’t they? I tried to push it away from my mind, but there were moments when it crept back in. The afternoon that I spent unloading, sorting and counting the almost 240 books we had collected so far I quietly thought to myself, are we doing a favor, or creating a burden? I told myself it was good, I knew it was good.

 

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(The photo of my trunk that is now totally tumblr and twitter famous.)

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(What the books looked like from the inside of their boxes and bags.)

 

This morning I traveled to the Orlando Union Rescue Mission to drop off our books. It was time for the kids to load up on the school bus, and some of the residents were seeing their children off to school. Of course, in my true fashion, I went to the wrong entrance. It was a good mistake though, because I was able to get more of a feel for the place we where we were sending the 267 books we had collected. There’s only one word I can use to describe the feeling I had while I was there and that word is Love. From the moment I stepped out of my car and the gentleman in the OURM van drove by me with a smile and a wave, to the moment I tried the right door when I needed to use the left door, to the time the resident hall receptionist kindly let me know that I was looking for the administrative offices in the next building, to the encounter with the lady on the sidewalk who cheerfully let me know that I was almost there, to the sweet lady in the lobby who called out an administrator for me, to the administrator expressing her joy when she heard about the books being there and rolled a large cart outside, to the two gentlemen who appeared out of nowhere (okay, out of a nearby OURM van) to help me (okay, they did it all) unload the books into the cart…everywhere and everyone there was full of love. I’m a receptive person and so when I tell you that every moment spent there was buzzing with love and kindness, you can trust me ;-). And the genuine, heartfelt thanks that I was given on behalf of all the hard work that our club had done in collecting these books cleared out every ounce of doubt that I had allowed to enter my mind. I was assured that the books were needed and appreciated, that there is an on site library for the residents and they were so thrilled to be able to add our books to their collection. School is out soon and they were especially looking forward to having some new books for the kids to read. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had a few tears of happiness when I left there this morning, knowing the impact that our club had made, and looking forward to working with them again in the future.

 

Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.” 
― Mother Teresa

 

 

 

With Just a Spark of Lightning…

Since the Harry Potter franchise began, all of us have heard stories about how Harry Potter has changed lives. It casted hope, defined a genre in the movie business, and even created jobs. In this blog, we will hear from people just like you whom have had their lives changed as if by magic.

Ashlynn Webb- Hufflepuff:

Harry Potter means the world to me because, when I was little, my parents found out that I had a problem reading. When I got done with tests at the age of 9, they told me I had a reading disability that is called Auditory Processing Disorder. It basically meant that I had problems learning to read because of certain words that I didn’t know how to pronounce. When I got done with tutors for learning how to pronounce words and learning how to sound them out it got easier. When I finally got to middle school I was finally able to pick up the first Harry Potter book and read it fully, while also comprehending all of the words. Since then I have never put any book down! Harry Potter is the reason I read books. Harry Potter taught me that I should not give up on trying to read a book I always wanted to read because of I have a reading disability. That is what Harry Potter means to me!

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Micky Christmas Lee- Slytherin:

Harry Potter,especially to those who grew up with it as something brand-new, means quite a lot. To me, it represents climbing trees and escaping to parks not often ventured in order to finish the latest of my source of wizardry. It meant trying with all my might to perform even the tiniest bit of magic, it even meant hiding secrets within my pack from magic-hating Muggles (My teachers). The Potterverse was a new place to explore spells and invent strange ideas– it acted as an anchor to a much bigger /thing/. The Harry Potter series put within me a love of series reading, and a love of a whole entire universe where it was completely okay to be a little strange.

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Liam Mason- Gryffindor:

What does Harry Potter mean to me? Harry Potter is more than just books, memorabilia, movies, wands, costumes, or Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. It means more than that to most people too;  The books inspired us, invoked passions, and rattled nerves. The movies transformed us, helped us fly like a Hippogriffs, or become reborn like Fawkes. Even more so, they personally affect all of us. Harry Potter, to me, is more than just a name, it’s a reminder. That a home and family can be more than just relatives or a specific place; it can be where your friends who cherish you gather. It taught me that it is our choices, far more than abilities, that make us who we are and that sometimes, we must make the choice between what is right and what is easy. It means to me, that any book I can get my hands on for the rest of my life will mean I open it to page 394 first, before doing anything else. Harry Potter means to me that even when you think you’re alone, or lost, or in trouble, all you have to remember is that the ones we love never really leave us. It means to me that, despite insurmountable odds and unbelievable disasters, good can triumph over evil. And that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. It’s taught me that the wealthiest and best connected people may not always be the kindest. That the power of a mother’s love can save you more than once. Harry Potter means to me that there is always humor and hope, even when the world is crumbling around you. Finally, the Potter world reminds me that scars, despite the injuries and pain that caused them… will disappear over time and not pain us further. All will be well.

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Mandy Kaufman- Ravenclaw:

What does Harry Potter mean to me? One may think that because I am currently in my 30’s that I was too old for Harry when he came out. How untrue that statement is. In a major way, Harry Potter changed my life for the better. I say this because up until 2001 when I was introduced to the series I hated reading, and worse, I hated school. For many reasons, being bullied constantly in the primary grades. I was bullied because I learned a bit differently than my classmates. I was bullied because I had to go to resource room for extra help with reading and mathematics. I was bullied because I was a bit more immature than my other classmates. You name it they bullied me for it. Later on in college the work was very cumbersome. My favorite was theater and it was my major. I had issues memorizing huge pages of dialogue. I had all but given up on school and, the dreams that went along with it. I am one of those people that the world of J.K Rowling changed. If I could say one thing to her it would be thank you. Thank you, for creating Harry and his world. Thank you, for another chance. Let me explain it this way. Because of Harry, Ron, Hagrid, Hermione, Dumbledore, Luna, Moaning Myrtle and the rest I started to read. Not only read but, read voraciously. Through the series I finally learned how to read well and find keys to memorization that I did not have before. Fast forward to 2013, because of Harry Potter I can honestly say I went back to school. Because of him I learned to finally be me and not worry about anyone else. So what have I accomplished? Those on my friends list know I completed not only my bachelors but my masters in psychology with a concentration in education. I actually do work in higher education part time for several years. For someone who hated school went to loving school and reading. All of this is because of a boy with spectacles and his zany adventures. On a side note, I identify most with Harry and Luna. Harry because he had such trouble in primary and found his way later. I also identify with Luna, because of her out of the box thinking and different ways like me.

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(And finally, yours truly)

Savannah Mick- Gryffindor:

What does Harry Potter mean to me? I can’t even begin to describe it, for Harry Potter literally saved my life. When I entered my teenage years, my dad remarried and abuse started. My stepmother, stepbrother, and even my own father abused me both mentally and physically. They took everything, including my Harry Potter books, which made me determined to survive. No matter how much they starved, beat, or denied me, I thought of Harry and his cupboard under the stairs. Like Harry, I had my friends step in and get me the help that I needed. Like Harry, I turned out better than anyone ever hoped. Like Harry, I faced obstacles and challenges. I could go on on all day, but the bottom line is, is that the Harry Potter franchise is the reason I am here today. Thank you, J.K. Rowling for bringing the stories of Harry and his friends to life!

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Diagon Alley Lion Heads

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Went to Universal on Sunday and they are adding a lot of finishing touches and details! They put up the lions on the outlying wall and are starting to paint them.

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But I can’t figure out why they didn’t paint them and then hang them? I was curious how they would paint the ones over the water and saw on Twitter they are using a boat and the painter has to wear a life vest. That doesn’t sound like fun!

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They added details in the windows like stacked books and lamps. They also added the clock in King’s Cross!

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They pushed back the wall again, which is exciting!  They added steps in some places and raised the temporary fence so we can’t jump up to take pics anymore.

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You can also tell that were they pushed the fence back is where this new permanent fencing was put up, so basically they could take down the temporary fence anytime and still block off the area.

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The lights went up on the columns and I think all the lights were on in the London facade area.

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The sign is up!!!

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Well this is my usual spot to see the Hogsmeade Station progress but i looks like they added a fence and lots of trees. But it’s okay because that means they are almost done!!

I will probably skip going next weekend as it will be a holiday and don’t want to deal with the crowds!

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Hogwarts meets Muggle Technology

Over the last month, the media exploded with news of Hogwarts is Here, a website designed to let Harry Potter fans live out their Hogwarts education fantasies. It all began when former myHogwarts.com users received emailed versions of the famous Hogwarts acceptance letter. (For those unfamiliar with myHogwarts, the site was marketed to be everything Pottermore wasn’t – a chance to take Hogwarts classes and meet with other fans in your city and around the world. After months of being down as the site was being worked on, it was shut down permanently after the creator received some form of communication (possibly a C&D?) from WB.) The former MH users were cautious, but overall excited at this opportunity to finally take Hogwarts classes!

The premise of the site is very cute ; basically, Hogwarts decided to open up to students from around the world. They’ve done so by opening up an online portion for those with access to muggle technology. Many members of the Slug Club (myself included) jumped on the chance, registering for accounts and signing up for classes the day they opened. Once they have created an account, students choose their House (saving the site from bitter people creating multiple accounts in the hopes of finally getting their preferred House), can get assigned a dorm room, sign up for classes, chat with others in their House or everyone in The Great Hall, or add friends.

What are some things you should know about the site before joining?

1. I totally overestimated the amount of work necessary. Seriously. I was a Hermione wanna-be who signed up for a ton of classes, but didn’t get Ministry approval for a time-turner. I had a few classes that had four assignments for the second week… understandable for a real school where I get an actual degree, but sadly, it’s not, and I don’t have time for that. I’m now in five classes but…

2. There are no due dates! It’s makes it hard to say no to signing up for a class… and hard not to procrastinate. I made an attempt at being on time with things, but then when everyone joined the site and it went down a lot while they tweaked it, I fell behind and sort of gave up. It’s comforting though to log in and see that everyone I had friended isn’t posting status updates either, so I assume they probably are in the same boat I am. And already touched on this before, but…

3. It’s glitchy. The site has had a lot of downtime. And really, it’s all understandable! I mean, Merlin’s knees, it’s been on the websites for The New York Times and The Washington Post. Everyone in fandom has at least checked it out. It is a small, free site with no major funding source and apparently only one person doing all of the coding. But I do feel like it should be mentioned, as I know there are some people out there who aren’t happy joining a site until all of the kinks have been worked out. The textbooks rolled out in pieces almost two weeks after classes started. The trivia section was pushed back a number of times, with just a vague message constantly displayed stating that it will open “tomorrow.”

4. It’s not Pottermore. And by this, I mean it’s not professional and it’s not necessarily the words of J.K. Rowling. Everyone working on the site is a volunteer, and it shows. Some of the textbooks are the size of a single chapter from another book.  Some of it is pulled strictly from canon, which means the information used is from any of the seven Harry Potter books, the supplementary textbooks written by JKR herself, or Pottermore. Other classes use a combination of muggle knowledge, mythology, and their own imaginations to create course materials. All in all, it reminds me of the earlier fandom days when everyone had a Livejournal and used it to join sorting communities, where users filled out an application, were sorted by the members, then earned points for their Houses by completing assignments and participating in discussions and challenges.

The question on many fans’ minds is, of course, how sustainable is it? When starting on HiH, users are designated as “first years”, with the promise that completing all of the “first year” courses will move them up to “second years.” Each course takes nine weeks, if one turns in the assignments on time. Do the professors actually have seven “years” worth of material to teach about? Is there a plan in place yet for fifth years and O.W.L.s? Will the site last that long or will it be shut down by WB? Or maybe those who run Pottermore will get the hint from HiH on what fans are looking for when it comes to an interactive fandom experience? If it does last through the seven “years” of education, what comes after that? Will HiH incorporate some of the more local aspects of myHogwarts, such as a the Wizard Cities where people in various cities around the globe could talk and plan meetups? (Fun fact: that’s how the Central Florida Slug Club was formed! Thank you, myHogwarts!) Will there be more in-depth electives that explore non-European centric magical cultures? There are so many possibilities! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this online Hogwarts!

One Lonely Gryffindor Snowman

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I worry about our snowman all alone on his cake, waiting for the day that his cake gets finished. We shall name him Sherman Lemon! Then today when I went to visit Sherman, he had moved!! Then I realized the top of the cake was kind of shiny and plastic looking. Could this be part of the interactive wands as well? Maybe he skates around on his little cake tossing is snowballs? Why else would his cake look so empty? We will see! Oh and who put a plate on that chair behind the cake?

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So I told you about the fountain topper being on last time and here is the promised photo! I saw on Twitter that the fountain was running yesterday but unfortunately it was not running when we were there today.  : (

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The main new thing I saw was the strung lights hanging between the lamp posts. I can’t wait to see this at night!

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My Gryffindor counterpart today did some major jumping while video taping to get you this great over the fence view! GO GO GRYFFINDOR!

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Over at Hogsmeade Station they added railings and lights on the building.

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This is across from Hogsmeade Station outside Hogsmeade by the new wall covering behind the scenes. What is that giant rock?

They seem to have new merchandise every week which is odd since they will have so much new stuff when the park opens but maybe it’s just a normal getting ready for summer thing?

 

 

 

Battle of Hogwarts Laser Tag

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Written by Alyssa Hancock

The Battle of Hogwarts is an event that lives in infamy amongst the magical community. Although it is such a remarkable day in our history, there are many among us who have mixed up the actual date of the event, perhaps as a result of being hit by the Confundus charm. The correct date of this notorious battle actually occurred on May 5, 2014. It was an epic battle waged between the Order of the Phoenix and their long-standing rivals, the Death Eaters.

 

The night started out with the opposing sides as enemies, the Order and the Death Eaters rooting against each other, hoping to win the battle to turn the tides in their favor. The first fight started at around 8:00pm and waged on for twenty minutes. It was truly a sight to see; spells being cast left and right, friends covering each other’s backs, and foes fighting until the bitter end. After twenty minutes, there was a momentary cease-fire, allowing each side to regroup and prepare for the next match.

 

As the combatants headed onto sacred ground for their next battle, a new force appeared, trying to strip away the glory from both sides and take it for themselves. This new strange enemy taunted the Order as well as the Death Eaters which was not a wise choice. The two rivals chose to end their feud momentarily and join forces to destroy this new menace that threatened their world.

 

With foes paired up for the first time in history, the witches and wizards felt invincible, but as the battles began, they could tell that their strength was outmatched. This new group was well practiced in dueling and posed a great threat to the Order and the Death Eaters. After losing three battles, all hope seemed lost and the witches and wizards in battle thought that their beloved Hogwarts would be taken by these newcomers.

 

During a final battle, a glimmer of hope shone through the darkness. The great witches and wizards decided to ambush their foes and overpower them in a final attempt to take back their school and their glory. In one fail swoop, the wizards surged forward and screamed “For Dumbledore!!!” With the incoming horde of wizards and the battle cry, the enemy was baffled and was swiftly overtaken.

 

In the end, the Order and the Death Eaters realized that it doesn’t matter if you’re friend or foe, it only matters that you know how to work together when times are tough.  And in the final moments of the battle, this statement rang true as that glorious battle turned the tides and allowed our brave witches and wizards to gain victory and reclaim what was rightfully theirs; the beloved Hogwarts. 

 

 

 

Construction Update Time!

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I’m a little behind on my post, these pictures are from Sunday. Sorry! But look they added these beautiful light posts!

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Close up!

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They added the fountain as well! It’s the same fountain as Piccadilly Circus. Since I took this picture on Sunday they have added the topper, I will try and get an updated photo this weekend!

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And over on the other side here is the latest photo of Hogsmeade station.

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Looks like they are getting ready to add the sign. It is going to look so amazing!!

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Here is the wall across from Hogsmeade station which I heard is going to stay and be covered in greenery.

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There is a new fireworks themed window in Hogsmeade. Could it already be rigged for the interactive wands?

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There is room around the base of the fireworks so the could move a little. They also had fireworks on the walls that looked like they could spin and the guys eyes looked like they could move. What do you guys think?