What is Gareth Hall Academy?

Alnwick Castle, the castle used for filming ex...

Alnwick Castle, the castle used for filming exterior shots of Hogwarts in the Potter films. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long ago, when I was writing Harry Potter fan fiction, I had come up with the idea of an alternative magical school since Hogwarts can’t be the only magical school in England. This alternative school is for those who did not get their acceptance letters to Hogwarts and/or preferred to attend a public school and go home in the evenings, as opposed to an actual boarding school.

Also, Hogwarts doesn’t appear to be a normal school because all the kids seem to study all the time. There are no after-school activities, very few sporting events, and dances are virtually nonexistent.

And to make matters worse, Hogwarts was run by Albus Dumbledore, a man whose reputation is questionable. Who would want to attend a school like that? There has to be a better place for magical students to attend.

Which is why I invented the school called Gareth Hall Academy.

The school was first mentioned in the fan fiction “Harry Potter & the Lifetime Original Sequel“, where the character Jacquel Romanov was supposed to be attending Gareth Hall as per her mother’s wishes, but she was forced to attend Hogwarts. She eventually chooses to attend Gareth Hall Academy, but not without giving up the friends that she had made over the years and choosing to drop the “orphan princess” persona that she had carried throughout her years as a Hogwarts student.

That was one example of how Gareth Hall Academy was featured in fan fiction, but we would like to know just how different Gareth Hall is from Hogwarts.

Hogwarts was founded by Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. Gareth Hall Academy was founded by Maurice Gareth. Both schools were built during the Middle Ages, when the persecution of witches was in its prime.

Hogwarts is divided into four houses, with each house being headed by Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. (Well, there were rumors that there had been a fifth Hogwarts house headed by Phargi Phoenixfur, but that’s another story.) Gareth Hall Academy doesn’t believe in sorting its students at all, as it was known that sorting students into different houses tended to cause unnecessary friction within the school.

Hogwarts was built as a huge castle while Gareth Hall Academy blends in with its surroundings as an actual school building. It was said that Gareth Hall could double as an actual boarding school (which happened during World War II), but for all intents and purposes, it functions as a regular (but magical) public school.

Hogwarts sends out letters inviting students to study in its school based upon whether or not the student came from a magical family. Gareth Hall Academy doesn’t concern itself with the family history of any of its students.

Hogwarts is seen as the elite school while Gareth Hall Academy is barely noticeable.

While Hogwarts only employs Quidditch as it’s main sport, Gareth Hall Academy has a football (soccer for non-British people), baseball, and several other sports.

And when it comes to its students, Hogwarts is notorious for turning out dark wizards and witches as well as imcompetent wizards. Gareth Hall Academy’s students make sure to be known only for their superb magical skills and less about their behavior.

We could go on comparing and contrasting Hogwarts and Gareth Hall all day, but that’s not the point of this essay. There’s still more things that need to be covered.

As was mentioned before, Gareth Hall functions as more of a magical public school and less of a collection place for talented wizards and witches. Also, since the school’s opening and susquential endurance over the years, very few people tended to notice Gareth Hall Academy at all. In fact, most wizards would rather send their children to Hogwarts than a school that sits in a mainly muggle city.

While we’re on the subject of location, the students at Hogwarts are mostly isolated from the rest of the wizarding world, save for the nearby wizarding village of Hogsmeade. The students of Gareth Hall Academy, however, can easily keep up with the changing times because they are surrounded by various buildings and stores that are located next to the school.

Other factors that separate Gareth Hall from the rest of the wizarding world is their education of squibs (wizards born without magic). Hogwarts has no such program to deal with that and most squibs were seen as a disgrace to their families. (There is also Merlin’s School of Magic, which also educates squibs, but that’s another story.)

So, what does this say about Harry Potter?

If he had gone to Gareth Hall Academy instead of Hogwarts, he might have become a better person overall. There would have been no need for him to get involved in Dumbledore’s lies and schemes and he wouldn’t have to fight any dark wizards either. In fact, the whole “Lord Voldemort” problem could have easily been taken care of without Harry being involved at all.

Such are the ways of this world!

But anyway, I’m now in the process of developing a new story about Gareth Hall Academy and its doings as opposed to the events of Harry Potter’s years as a Hogwarts student. The students there pay very close attention to those events and some of them are questioning the quality and validity of Hogwarts when word of its troubles gets out and the world learns about it.

Or we could have the following fan fiction options: Supposedly that Harry was indeed expelled from Hogwarts and was forced to attend Gareth Hall Academy. What would he do now that he is no longer a Hogwarts student? Would he be able to make new friends? Would anyone want to hang out with him if they knew who he really was?

Or let’s try this: Harry decides that Hogwarts isn’t for him and he wants to find another magical school to attend. He persuades the Dursleys to find a school for him and they eventually discover Gareth Hall.

And here’s another one: Harry is sent to Gareth Hall as an exchange student. He stays for an entire year. But when it comes time for him to go back to Hogwarts, is he willing to leave his new friends behind, or will he fight for his right to stay at Gareth Hall?

And one more idea to toss out there: What if the Dursleys learned about Gareth Hall and instead of sending Harry to Hogwarts, they send him to Gareth Hall?

These ideas seem to be better than what we have out there. One day, I hope that someone will actually write a story out of these ideas and put Harry Potter in his proper place.


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