BAILEYTON — Parkside School was full of magic Thursday morning as the "Today Show" and several of the stars from the upcoming "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" came to the school as part of a Wizarding World Day that showcased its Harry Potter themed classrooms and hallways and recognized the work of its teachers and students.
Every Parkside student received a backpack filled with Harry Potter merchandise. But the biggest surprise came when cast members Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller and Callum Turner stopped by the school for tour before speaking to students.
"What your teachers have done here, what the community has done here, to rally behind this extraordinary school and inspire you guys to do such things, it has literally blown our minds," Redmayne said. "So thank you so much for having us."
Making a stop in Baileyton on a promotional tour that is spanning the globe is also a unique experience, Law said.
"It's exciting enough to be a part of a film franchise or world that came from these books that goes all around the world. We were just in China and saw people there really embrace it, get so excited by it," he said. "To also be in a situation like this, where it's actually had a real grassroots influence on a community... it's incredibly exciting."
All of Parkside's students were thrilled to see the stars of one of their favorite movie series, but that excitement flowed both ways, Miller said.
"Inspiration never just runs one way. This is going to power us through the next four weeks of our lives as we're so deep into the world of jet lag that you start to literally forget who you are," he said. "In that moment I know that I'll refer to this memory, because this is a reminder of what this is, and what J.K. Rowling's legacy is in this world."
As part of the ceremony, the stars also presented a check for $25,000 from Warner Bros. to the school.
Parkside Principal Richard Orr said the experience of having such a big event come to the school has been overwhelming.
"It's been a whirlwind," he said. "The emotion of the cast coming and J.K. Rowling recognizing our school and choosing to include us in something so big."
The donation from Warner Bros. will also go a long way for the school, he said.
"What it means to such a small school with a low budget, we can do so many more things," he said. "It's just overwhelming."
Parkside's Harry Potter hallways were the brainchild of teachers Jacy Douglas, Tracy Jones and Karen Moon, but they all said they had no idea their idea would end up gaining so much attention from around the world when they first started their project in 2016.
"It's a very surreal moment," Jones said.
Parkside is a small school in a low-income area, so many students may not have the opportunity to travel and see a lot of things outside of their hometown, so having movie stars come to their school to talk about the impact that the school has made around the world will be something they will always remember, Douglas said.
"I just think it's going to have such a huge impact," she said. "This is something that all of our students are going to remember for the rest of their lives. They're going to tell their kids about the day that the stars came to Parkside."