The adventures of Harry Potter usually are reserved for the avid book reader or movie goer. You would not expect to find the magical incantations of all things Hogwarts in the classroom.

But then again, perhaps you never took a moment to look inside the room at Marengo Elementary School, where you will find more than 20 third and fourth graders soaking up Hogwarts Kitchen.

Hogwarts Kitchen, taught by Mary Cong, is just one of the many inventive summer school programs offered by the South Pasadena Educational Foundation. The summer school programs also include Troll Town, Ooey Gooey Science, Digging for Dinosaurs, Ozobots, and Hip-Hop Dance, among others.

“I love it,” Cong said, who has been a public-school teacher for the nearly 20 years. “It offers the students a chance to learn about something that they wouldn’t ordinarily have a chance to learn about.”

Hogwarts Kitchen offers students the opportunity to help “the house elves in the kitchen,” according to the class description. “Through demonstrations and hands-on experiences, students will learn to prepare (and sample) favorite dishes from the world of Harry Potter.”

There is a method to the creativity because as the students are enthralled by imaginative world of Harry Potter, they are also learning general kitchen skills and will take home a class cookbook. The class also is reading “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

Cong’s classroom is also the site for Camp Half-Blood from “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” Hogwarts School of Wizardry – Year One, and Magizoology from the motion picture “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

“I have 24 kids in my classroom and they all just love it,” Cong said recently as she was teaching her afternoon Hogwarts Kitchen class. “The school provides some of the tools I use, and I provide some. The school reimburses me for whatever I use.”

Cong’s classroom for the summer session is adorned with Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts and Percy Jackson memorabilia. Banners hang from the walls, wands are being painted on the tables and magical parfaits are being prepared.
“I’m using pudding for this potion,” said Cong, as she whipped up a magical delight that the students gobbled up. 

The third and fourth graders echoed Cong’s assessment, saying summer school is fun.

“I think it’s exciting and fun,” said Benjamin Walker, 9. “Better than regular school.”

Cong agrees there’s an extraordinary amount of excitement with these programs.

“I’ve been doing this now for what, 15 years and every time I see the kids get excited about the activities we do,” Cong said. “Not only do they get excited but they participate in every activity. This summer school is special.”

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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