COLUMBIA — Lauren Flaker is a senior sprinter on the Rock Bridge track and field team, a member of the National Honor Society and belongs to Model UN, Rock Bridge Reaches Out and her church youth group. She is also a Gryffindor.
Outside of track, Flaker is the co-president of Rock Bridge’s Harry Potter club, formally known as Dumbledore’s Army named after the fictional principal of the wizardry school Hogwarts. She takes pride in the fact she, after taking an online quiz, was sorted as a Gryffindor, the same house as Harry himself.
“I love Harry Potter,” said Flaker, who claims to be Harry in female form. “It’s fun to be able to get in a group of kids, who, like myself, are obsessed with this fictional character. It’s also pretty awesome to say I’m in such an off-beat club.”
As a co-president, who the club refers to as a head mistress, she is responsible for planning activities related to Harry Potter. Infusing pick-up lines with wizard jargon, wand-making and sorting members of the club into the four different houses that divide students at the fictional Hogwarts school are some of the things the club does.
Earlier this year, members of the club shared a Halloween feast. They indulged in butter beer, pumpkin juice, spider cupcakes and other snacks recreated from the Harry Potter series while watching "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." The less adventurous students ate chips and salsa but most everyone dressed up in wizard attire.
“I joined for the same reason I’m still in the club,” Flaker said. “It’s something kind of nerdy but cool at the same time that kids can be geeky together without feeling less awesome. It’s one of those quirky clubs people don’t normally have in high school.”
Flaker’s next venture for the club is to play a game of quidditch, without the brooms and on the ground. She made some adjustments to the logistics of playing the game so it resembles tag, where the “snitch ball" used in the game is actually a cross-country runner in which opposing teams have to chase around and capture to earn points for their team.
Chasing won’t be a problem for Flaker. She runs the 100-meter dash and the 200-meter dash for the Bruins. She placed sixth in the 100-meter dash at last season's state meet and is close to breaking the school record in the event set by Leah Moore at 12.01.
Flaker is also chasing the school record in the 400 meters. Although she has never run in the event, she has competed in the 4x400-meter relay where her split puts her just behind the 400 mark set by Lauren Borduin, who now runs for Georgetown.
“When Coach says ‘jump’ I say ‘how high,’” Flaker said. “I don't have a whole lot of control over what I run in, but I don't complain about that. I think Coach sees potential in me running the open 400. There will be a lot of good competition in St. Louis, so it's a great time for me to see what I can really do in the event.”
Flaker hopes to compete in the state meet again, striving for a top-four finish in the 100. She also wants to run in another event at the state meet in addition to her relays.
“Putting Lauren in the 400 has been a gradual process, actually since her freshman year,” Bruins coach Neal Blackburn said. “She showed promise in the 4x400-meter relay ... it could be something she can excel in at the state meet. It also gives her an opportunity to show her range on the track and expose her to more looks from colleges.”
Coaches from Georgetown, Syracuse and Missouri have shown interest in Flaker joining their track teams, but nothing has been decided yet. Flaker is still considering her options and deciding if she wants to pursue track in college.
Maybe the sorting quiz was right. The personality of a Gryffindor is courageous, daring and brave.
“She strives to do well and takes pride in her performance,” Blackburn said. “She has a realization of how good she is, but she doesn’t act like it and acts like just another kid on the team. In these last 30 days, we’re hoping to get her as many looks from the next level of competition and set her up for success at the state meet. She has given a lot to the team and has put a lot of effort into it, we want to send her out on a high note.”