August—it’s already that time of year. When kids, teens, and young adults alike must return to the halls of educational facilities and hit the books. Be honest: You REALLY enjoyed your summer and are ABSOLUTELY NOT looking forward to it.
Many students have now returned to their classrooms or will be doing so very soon. As the first day of the school year approaches, there is a particular thought we all share when consuming our favorite forms of media: “I wish I could attend that school.”
That particular school is from our favorite book, movie, TV show, anime, or video game. Our train of thought is that these schools seem easily more fun and entertaining than the same old, boring school we are currently attending. So in the spirit of “Back to School Week” here at Geeks Under Grace, a few staff members decided to share some of their favorite fictional schools they would love to attend.
Jennifer Hicklin – Hogwarts (Harry Potter)
Ever since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released on June 26, 1997, every fan waited anxiously at the beginning of August for their Hogwart’s Letter to arrive. We dreamed of buying school supplies in Diagon Alley; going to King’s Cross Station to run through the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 to get to Platform 9 ¾; taking the Hogwarts Express through the English countryside; and seeing our first glorious view of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We knew what house we would be sorted in, and which classes we would love the most. Since opening the first page, we’ve dreamed of adventures, secret passageways, and dangers that awaited in one of the most enrapturing fictional schools of our generation.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardly has and always will be one of my favorite fictional schools. In a way, it became a second home for so many people. We loved the protagonists, detested the villains, rejoiced with their victories, and mourned their deaths. When Harry Potter was filmed, we saw our imagination come to life.
The school itself is an entropic mystery that only becomes more complicated the more you learn about it. Dungeons protecting hidden treasure, deep chambers filled with horrible monsters, secret societies, rooms that disappear, and secret passageways are the norm…as if a magical school wasn’t interesting enough.
The books and movies have received a lot of criticism, but it will never negate the impact it has had on so many lives. Many of those deemed “Potterheads” quite literally grew up reading the novels and watching the movie series. The school is as much a part of us as any childhood memory. Some of us, though well past 11 years old, are still waiting for our letter to arrive. I think the best way to describe Hogwarts is a quote from the writer herself, JK Rowling, “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
Julianna Purnell – Alola Pokemon School (Pokemon Sun & Moon)
I was utterly obsessed with Pokémon when it first came out. I was only ten at the time, and since the Internet hadn’t yet hit its stride, I would gather as many magazines and guidebooks on the games and anime as possible. Learning the names of all 151 pokémon was easy (at least, back when there were only 151), but I would also know what level they’d evolve at, what moves they’d learn, what types they were effective and weak against, and all sorts of useless information. “If only you put this much effort into your actual studies,” my sister used to lament.
But what if I could take classes about pokémon? I love animals and was a volunteer zookeeper for years, which might be why, of all the fictional worlds I’ve come across, I’d choose to live in the Pokémon universe. The games and anime don’t really display a consensus as to how precisely the school system works. Though what’s clear from Ash’s educational experiences in Alola is it’s an academy that prioritizes practical training over traditional methods of study.
You don’t read about eggs – you hatch them. There’s no point learning about Pokémon if you don’t have one as your buddy; in Alola, your first lesson is to catch one! For a world that’s heavily influenced by its wildlife, what you learn in the classroom is completely relevant, with the course structure seemingly tailored to each individual student’s current skill level or interest.
It’s the amount of freedom within the system that appeals to me greatly, along with the core desire to bond deeply with one another, overcoming language barriers and differences in species. Sure, it’s all just one big glorified course in animal husbandry, but hey, if you love critters, then the Pokémon world is where you belong.
L.J. Lowery – Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (X-Men)
My first exposure to the X-Men was the cartoon series that appeared on Fox Kids every Saturday morning. Those Saturday mornings were the reason I became a huge fan of comics and superheroes. Not only did I think it would be really awesome to have special powers, I imagined it would be way better if I could go to school and learn how to use those powers along with students who were just like me—that school is Xavier’s School for gifted Youngsters.
The X-Men series has many deep and dark themes which are better suited for a different editorial, but to better explain the school I’ll need to set the stage. People with special abilities in the world of X-Men are labeled “Mutants.” Their special abilities come from a unique gene in their DNA that others do not have. Therefore, to the world they are outcasts, and not even considered human by many. Without needing to say more, the dots can easily be connected to how the series potentially reflects real world events.
Xavier’s School acts as a beacon of light against those darker themes. While Xavier’s rival Erik Lehnsherr (a.k.a “Magneto”) sees mutants as the “master race,” Professor Charles Xavier would rather see mutants live among humans peacefully. As a result, Charles Xavier founded Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters to teach young mutants how to use and control their powers in a safe environment. However, the school also doubled as a way for Xavier to protect humanity from evil mutants and create a team of students called the “X-Men.”
I could relate to these characters because I saw myself as some kind of outcast or misfit. I never fit in with one particular group or clique, especially since I changed schools frequently. I truly believe many other readers of the comic and viewers of the various X-Men cartoon are able to relate in the same way. We all wanted to go to Xavier’s school, because that was a place that passed no judgement on what kind of person you are. Along with that, we always wondered what kind of special powers we would have if we were one of the X-men.
When things get tough during the school year, we often wish we could attend schools like these. Sure they would be more unique, but wouldn’t schooldays in these worlds be just as tough? During the times when exams and homework have got you down, remember some of your favorite characters in these works of fiction are likely going through the same type of struggles.
We see them go through terrible losses, yet they persevere and we also see some of their greatest victories. During these times, do not forget Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Tell us in the comments what some of your favorite fictional schools are!
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