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Yellowknife teacher transforms classroom into Hogwarts

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Laura Bromley first fell in love with the Harry Potter books when she was a Grade 6 student at William McDonald Middle School in Yellowknife.

Now, she’s a Grade 6 and 7 teacher at the same school, working to ignite a love for the same stories in her own students. They started studying the first book in J.K. Rowling’s series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, last month.

As a surprise to go along with the curriculum, she’s bringing her students right into the pages of the novel by transforming her classroom into Hogwarts, the British school of witchcraft and magic that forms the setting for the series.

“I think [Harry Potter] represents kind of what we all hope to be a little bit,” she said.

“Becoming a wizard isn’t really the realistic part, but just discovering our abilities and going through adventures and trials and tribulations and things like that is really exciting.”

The Harry Potter curriculum isn’t just literature. Bromley uses elements from the book to teach her students other subjects, such as chemistry. (Randi Beers/CBC)

Harry Potter is an 11-year-old boy who gets an invitation to study at Hogwarts, the school of witchcraft and wizardry.

Bromley’s Harry Potter curriculum isn’t just literature — she’s using the novel to teach her students chemistry, physics, geography and even a little Latin.

Her students are separated into four houses — Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor — just like the book. They’re chosen based on their personality traits, so Bromley’s students took personality quizzes to determine their own houses.

Kira Clark said she almost cried when she saw her classroom had turned into Hogwarts. (Randi Beers/CBC)

Then, they came up with a motto and translated it into Latin. In Bromley’s Hogwarts, Ravenclaw’s motto is ex aliqua sapentia eu quis malefiais ordinatis, or “Wisdom can come from any witch, wizard or muggle.”

The inspiration to bring Hogwarts to William McDonald school came from another teacher at the school, who transforms her classroom into A Christmas Carol every year before winter break. Bromley noticed the extra effort made her colleague’s students that much more engaged in what they were reading, so she decided to give it a shot herself.

Bromley said her students were surprised by the classroom transformation. Some, who are already into Harry Potter, were excited. Two of those students were Kira Clark and Liam Leonard, who both said they almost cried out of happiness when they saw it.

The sorting hat sits at the front of the classroom. Just like in the book, students put the hat on (or held it) to help determine which house they would join. (Randi Beers/CBC)

“It was like my birthday party all over again,” said Clark.

Others were a bit more skeptical.

“[Those students] were thinking, ‘What the heck is going on in here and what am I going to have to do,'” said Bromley.

Bromley’s students received the coveted, selective, secretive invitations to Hogwarts, just like Harry Potter in the book. (Randi Beers/CBC)

After the new year, Bromley’s classroom will no longer be Hogwarts. But she hopes her students’ experiences over the past six weeks have a lasting effect.

“I love J.K. Rowling because she created Harry Potter and opened up this world of literature to me,” said Bromley.

“[This project] is about creating a love of reading and opening up the world to [my students].”

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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