Aug. 24th, 2013

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Dear new student:

Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry! Thank you for accepting your offered place at Britain's premiere school of Magic; we are excited to have you join us. Attached is your orientation packet to help guide you though your first few weeks at Hogwarts. If you are Muggle-raised you will also find A Parent's Guide to Magical Britain enclosed. Although it says "A Parent's Guide", you, the student, are encouraged to read it with your family so you may learn something of your rights and responsibilities as a junior citizen of the Wizarding world.

Your time at Hogwarts will likely be very different from your life at home. While it is incumbent upon you to make the adjustment, the Hogwarts faculty and staff are committed to helping you transition from childhood to being an adult Witch or Wizard.

HOUSES

You may have by now heard of Hogwarts' House System which Sorts students based on their personalities. While in the past students were Sorted into Houses upon their arrival at Hogwarts, today we recognize that a person's personality is extremely fluid at age eleven, and that their priorities and interests can change day by day, especially as they learn more about the world of adult Wizards. Sorting can be an important part of self-discovery, but we have opted to wait for final House Sorting until the beginning of a student's third year. This way, you will have time to get a sense of what place you might like to have in the Magical World, your interests and priorities, and even what kinds of other people you would like to spend most of your time around. Your House will be your family and home at Hogwarts, so a good fit is especially important.

First and second year students live and study together in Ickle House (also called Lower or Unsorted House). You will still go through the Sorting ceremony, as this is part of how Hogwarts recognizes you as a student, but you will automatically be assigned to Ickle House if you are under thirteen years of age. Your Head of House, House Matron, and Prefects (sixth and seventh year students drawn from all four Upper Houses) will all help you adjust to life at Hogwarts and in the Magical world. They will counsel you both academically and personally, mediate conflicts, guide you through the ins-and-outs of Hogwarts, ensure school rules are followed, and lend a sympathetic ear if you simply need to talk.

CLASSES

In addition to the Core Subjects of History of Magic, Transfiguration, Charms, Protection (formerly Defense Against Dark Arts), and Potions, first and second year students will take two classes to introduce them to life at Hogwarts and the larger world. All first and second years attend Methods, which will teach you to cope with the academic rigors of Hogwarts and be a successful student: how to conduct good library research, effective study skills, how to safely practice for practicals, time management, and essay writing. As our students come from diverse academic backgrounds, remedial tutoring in these topics, as well as literacy and numeracy, are available for students who require it in addition to regular classes. Just remember, you would not have been offered a place at Hogwarts if the faculty did not have full confidence in your ability to do well here.

First and second year students are also required to take Introduction to Magical Britain. This is a civics class, focused on a Wizard's rights and responsibilities as a citizen of Magical Britain, law, Britain's place in the larger Magical world, the relationship between Magical and Muggle Britain, and the functioning of various Magical institutions such as the Ministry, Wizengamot, Gringotts, and the school system of which Hogwarts is the crown jewel. In the first two months of the first year, students will be divided according to their upbringing: Muggle-raised students will receive instruction in magical matters their Wizard-raised peers learned as children, including an introduction to Wizarding culture; Wizard-raised students will conversely receive an overview of modern Muggle life, so they may understand their fellow students and the entirety of the world of which Wizards are a minority.

Because most Magical incantations are not in Modern English, first year students receive an introduction to Latin, focusing on the language elements salient to the formation of Magical incantations and naming conventions. Second year students take a similar class focusing on Ancient Greek. Further classes in both these languages are available as electives, which you may begin to take in your third year.

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