Harry Potter Week continues as a beloved campus tradition

HPW 2022 - Student standing in front of the Ponce wearing Harry Potter attire.
November 7, 2022
By Anna Boone, Carly Hargroves contributed reporting
Once a year, Flagler College comes to life with the magic of Harry Potter.

What started more than a decade ago as a month-long nod to the Harry Potter series that was rolling out in theaters at the time, has turned into a cherished tradition of Harry Potter Week every November. The striking resemblance of Flagler’s campus to the fantastical Hogwarts castle inspired the tradition, but enthusiasm from students, faculty, and staff for the schedule of events that occur each year has kept it alive.

“No other school has this, no other school looks like it,” junior Kailey Tucker said. “I think all of the students’ enthusiasm is what makes it so magical. And I think the events are just really immersive.”

Tucker said that when she first came to Flagler, she had no fascination whatsoever with the series.

“When I came to Flagler, I had absolutely no interest in Harry Potter,” she said. “I had never read the books or seen the movies.”

But on the first night of Harry Potter Week, there is always a screening of one of the films in the series with hopes of getting students who may not know a lot about Harry Potter more excited for the activities to come. Tucker went to this screening her freshman year and was immediately hooked.

“I absolutely loved it the first time I saw it,” she said.

Last year, Tucker was excited to experience a new element of Harry Potter Week- the Diagon Alley concert at the St. Augustine Amphitheater which this year will feature singer Sean Kingston. The concert was developed by Student Leadership & Engagement staff as a new and more widely appealing element to this week-long tradition.

“For Harry Potter Week last year, they had Dayglow come to the amphitheater, and Dayglow is probably one of my favorite bands ever,” Tucker said. “So, I got to go super early and see everybody making all the Harry Potter crafts. And then I got to go and be barricade for my favorite band through Flagler.”

Coordinator of Student Engagement, Kaelyn Thomas, said it is new events like this that “boost the magic of the week.” But, she recognizes the importance of maintaining the more long-standing elements of the week as well.

“Something that I really wanted to focus on was the traditions that we already had in place for Harry Potter Week and what those meant to students,” Thomas said.

One of the longest-running and most anticipated events of Harry Potter Week is the Great Hall Dinner & House Cup Ceremony at the end of the week.

For this major event and throughout the week, a small group of faculty and staff dress up as the main professors from Hogwarts to make students feel like they’ve truly stepped into the Wizarding World. Will Jackson, Director of Network and Desktop Support Services, has been dressing up as Hagrid for Harry Potter Week since his now adult children were young.

“When we’re up there, we’re trying to play the characters,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best as we can.”

In fact, Will Jackson said he doesn’t trim his beard starting in June to try and get it as long as possible for Harry Potter Week. And last year, he even brought his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to campus to emulate Hagrid’s iconic bike.

Through the years, he said it became a Jackson family routine to watch the entire series leading up to the Great Hall Dinner at the end of the week. His daughter, Taylor Jackson, who attended Flagler for a year and now works on staff as a Housekeeper, grew up coming with her dad to Harry Potter Week and has a special place in her heart for the series.

“She’s got every Harry Potter book, she’s got it all on audio, she’s got everything,” he said. “She even has a Harry Potter tattoo. I mean she’s a fanatic.”

She said her favorite parts of the week are watching the Hogwarts “professors” on stage during the Great Hall feast and seeing the car cut-out in the West Lawn oak tree mimicking the Weasley’s flying car that Ron and Harry flew into the Whomping Willow in the Chamber of Secrets.

Taylor Jackson said the magic of the week really comes from the school’s resemblance to Hogwarts, which she says has a “very Gryffindor feel to it.” She said it’s a magic appreciated by everyone who experiences it.

“Everybody of all ages, staff, students, they can all enjoy it,” she said.

The tradition of Harry Potter Week is something that even freshmen who haven’t experienced it yet are enthusiastic about. Freshman Cece Gauthreaux said while she was researching Flagler last year ahead of attending, she ended up on Saints Connect where she was excited to see events listed for Harry Potter Week.

“It’s special because it’s a way for everyone to come together about an interest that most people like,” Gauthreaux said. “It’s like when you have homecoming week back in high school and everyone comes together. It’s like that.”

Harry Potter Week comes at a stressful time in the semester for most students, just weeks before final exams. So, it’s an ideal time to take a mental break, one that students like Gauthreaux see as a “great de-stress.”

Tara Stevenson, dean of student engagement & career development, thinks this opportunity for students to de-stress is an especially valuable part of Harry Potter Week.

“I love that they get that time to escape,” she said. “Still be here, but escape.”

Stevenson first got involved with Harry Potter Week when she dressed up as Professor Umbridge in 2013, and has been active with the tradition ever since, in recent years, dressing up as Bellatrix.

“I think over the years, I’ve gotten a whole lot more into Harry Potter,” she said.

At its roots, Stevenson said Harry Potter Week is something that brings everyone on campus together- regardless of individual interest in the series.

“You may have no idea what Harry Potter is, and you may not like it, but for that one week we as an institution come together for this silly purpose because it's just a part of us,” she said.


Check out this year’s Harry Potter Week schedule of events on the Saints Connect landing page.

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