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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

My newest addiction: Hogwarts is Here

What if I told you the Internet offered an opportunity to do extra homework — without getting any sort of credit — and what if I told you I took it? 
(You’d say I’m crazy, I’m guessing.)
I swear, though, I have a good reason. This homework isn’t from just any old school; it’s from Hogwarts.
Thanks to Hogwarts is Here (HiH), a new Harry Potter fansite that offers online classes that correspond with the classes Harry took at Hogwarts, I’ve successfully put off even more school work than I normally do.
It all began when I read about HiH from some random website and decided to make an account. Unlike Pottermore, another Harry Potter interactive website, HiH isn’t officially sanctioned by the great J.K. Rowling or whoever has the rights to Harry Potter intellectual property. Instead, it’s created by volunteer fans. That means they understand one fundamental aspect of Harry Potter fandom: We want to choose our own houses.
Let’s be real. When I first signed up for Pottermore maybe a year ago, the Sorting Hat put me into Hufflepuff, and I was so offended that I started over with a new account. Hufflepuff is the worst because they don’t have any special distinction. 
(Just kidding, y’all. Hufflepuffs are loyal and open-minded.) 
Another thing that HiH handles well is the concept of House points. Unlike in Pottermore, in which you get points by “dueling” (a.k.a. typing in letters) or making potions (extremely time-consuming and easy to get wrong), earning House points in HiH is actually meaningful since you earn points by taking classes, which are taught by the volunteers. 
I signed up for astronomy, because I was trying to learn a little real-life knowledge to supplement my Harry Potter obsession. My first assignment was to research a constellation. 
Yes, I was actually writing a mini-essay on the constellation Andromeda instead of studying for my math test the next day. Bad life decisions are my forte, as you can tell. But it was all worth it … sort of. I got 100 percent on that particular astronomy essay and somewhat less than that on the math test. 
Of course, the so-called “essay” was only 300 words and around 150 words was making up an alternative myth about the creation of the constellation — not quite formal, nonfiction, analytical writing. And my grader was an anonymous volunteer, who might have just been in a mood to give everyone full points that day. 
After completing this assignment, I moved on to the second lesson on Mercury. Each assignment is preceded by a short article on the topic, like a textbook excerpt, and quizzes round out the end of some lessons. 
What’s most impressive about HiH, though, isn’t my dedication to procrastination, but the amazing volunteers that run the site. When I first made an account, the site crashed all the time because of server overload. 
But only a few days later, they had already brought in people to help them stabilize the site. And although HiH does feature ugly banner ads, I understand they need them to pay for site upkeep. 
In fact, the sheer breadth of the curriculum is astounding. HiH offers a multitude of courses, including history of magic, transfiguration, charms, potions and more. Each course is nine weeks and volunteers grade assignments. You can even buy textbooks that are also fan-written with wizard money you get from the wizarding bank, Gringotts. I can only imagine people contributed to this project.
  Thanks to them, though, I have a new go-to site for wasting time. Since HiH doesn’t have an explicit goal, and the “goal” is just to take fun classes, I can spend an infinite amount of time there.  
Call me crazy. Honestly, I don’t care. I have astronomy homework to do. 
 
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