A joint resource for JEM & MHSPA

Minnesota Scholastic Journalism

The Weasleys (a story published in the Kabekonian Yearbook

She may just be a Weasley. She has the hair for it. She even has her own version of “The Burrow,” the cramped home that the Weasley family lives in from J.K. Rowling’s prolific Harry Potter series. The walls of the barn loft are lined with shelves containing magical items, hand-crafted by her and her sister above steps painted a myriad of colors. The room is filled with potions made from berries picked in the yard, wands whittled from twigs gathered off the ground near the trees that scratch at the barn’s boards and other Potter-themed chotchkies like wizarding world trading cards ripped from the cartons of chocolate frogs eaten years ago.

Senior Haley Beech and her sister, freshman Hannah Beech, pieced together their Harry Potter loft years ago, when the series first gained popularity. The loft was her sister’s idea; she just went along with it. It is a major part of her childhood, and every time Beech has contemplated taking it down, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. For Beech, the loft holds memories that stretch all the way back to the third grade.

Harry Potter has been like a brother to Beech. She has grown up with him and shared experiences with him, from the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to the more recent Battle of Hogwarts.

“I read the first five books and just remember it being really exciting. I read them as they came out starting in the third grade,” said Beech. “I try to re-read them every summer since then. I remember clearly the last two movies in particular. It’s really emotional, the end of a journey.”

Beech’s parents were the ones who gave her the access and encouragement to read the novels. They also allowed Beech and her sister the creativity to transform the loft into a place of enchantment. “My parents got the books for us, and my sister and I really got into it,” said Beech. “We had an old loft in our barn, and our parents said to go for it. They told us to take it and turn it into a club and have fun. We built the loft, made new posters and potions to put up there.”

The loft developed, starting when Beech was in fifth grade, and grew to its present state over the course of three years.

Beech said she is sad that Harry Potter is over, and they have trouble finding to time to add more to their collection; she is the captain of three sports, a member of NHS and plays saxophone in jazz band. In the light that filters through the square windows hidden behind cluttered shelves, dust particles drift through the air. Beech said, “It’s an artifact” of her childhood.

The loft does not appear to be manufactured, as if part of a movie set. Yet that is part of the spell it casts. Sitting at the table, taking in the hours of work that went into making every item that holds its own on the shelves, the rickety oak table, and the yellowed handpainted proclamations that allude to the fifth book, it is easy to believe that it’s real, that the corner of the loft belongs to an actual witch, who is gone studying at Hogwarts.

Senior Amy Crea, a friend of Beech’s, has been in the loft multiple times. Even though they realized their Hogwarts acceptance letter would not be coming years ago, Crea still holds that the loft has a mystical effect.

“It gives you a vision of the world you read so deeply into in the books,” said Crea. “I loved Harry Potter because J.K. Rowling was able to make unreal things seem real, but the loft is real, and going up there brings back so many parts of my childhood.”

Beech and her friends may not go back often, but the memories have stayed, in the literal sense. Besides crafts on the shelves, ground into the carpet is glitter, which once sat in a dish forming “the floo powder network,” a system of traveling in the wizarding world where green powder is thrown at the ground when the traveler states where they want to go. The dish was knocked over, and no one ever bothered to vacuum. “Once you spill glitter,” chuckled Beech, “there’s no turning back.”

Junior Sofie Wicklund has been friends with Beech for four years. She is also a big Potter fan. To her, the loft is an exciting place. She and Beech often hang out up there on warm summer days. “In the loft, we talk about our love for Harry Potter, our favorite parts, characters and other magical things,” explained Wicklund. “I’m incredibly jealous of the loft.”

One item that is prominent in the loft are Umbridge’s proclamations from The Order of the Phoenix. Dozens hang from the rafters. Beech’s favorite scene, from all the movies in the series, was from the movie based on that book. Fred and George Weasley fly into the Great Hall of Hogwarts to signify they’re leaving school for good, and drop fire crackers, knocking down sinister Headmaster Umbridge’s precious proclamations. “It was a moment of victory,” exclaimed Beech. “Umbridge was so evil. But I like the first movies the best, because the actors are so adorable. That’s classic Harry Potter.”

But Harry Potter has influenced Beech in more ways than just memories that exist as part of someone else’s fiction. It has caused her to look for magic in real life. She’s interested in chemistry, physics and biology, three areas of study that could be described as real life potions, charms and transfiguration.

“Our generation really grew up with him, waiting for the new movies and books to come out. I think everyone in the back of their mind can’t wait for that letter from Hogwarts to be dropped off at their house by owl,” grinned Beech, “especially me. Now it’s just up to us to keep the magic alive.”

The modeling clay Hogwarts castle sits front and center, while a stuffed Hedwig, Crookshanks, and Dobby look down on the room, watching over the movements of all who enter. Like any club, there are rules that must be followed.

“It’s carpeted, so you have to take off your shoes. You also have to choose your wand when you enter,” noted Beech. “And you have to take on a character. I was usually Hermione or Ginny.” Beech even went as the beloved character Ginny for Halloween one year.

And maybe that is her secret, hidden up there in that loft in Lake Elmo. She may just be a Weasley, red hair and all. Or, perhaps, she is just a graduated girl who has not forgotten to cherish the past and all the magic it holds.

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A joint resource for JEM & MHSPA
The Weasleys (a story published in the Kabekonian Yearbook