COLUMBIA — The group of Rock Bridge High School students let out a cry of frustration when they saw the bridge in the corn maze at Shryocks Callaway Farms for the third time.
They had spent the past 40 minutes walking in circles and arguing about Harry Potter trivia.
They couldn't magic their way out of the corn maze. Instead, they had to use the small, red map given to them to navigate to the end.
The team was one of three wending their way out of the maze in an effort to win a Harry Potter-themed Triwizard Tournament, based on a competition featured in the series' fourth book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
Instead of the magical schools of Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, three of Columbia's high schools — Hickman, Battle and Rock Bridge — participated in the tournament Friday evening. The tournament is the first of three challenges, said Hickman teacher Noelle Gilzow, who is also "headmistress" of Hickman's Dumbledore's Army club.
The tournament was hosted and organized by the Dumbledore's Army clubs at each school. The clubs are named after a group that Harry teaches in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
The premise of Friday's tournament was simpler than the maze in Harry Potter's Triwizard Tournament, Gilzow said. Points were based on how many trivia Harry Potter trivia questions team members answered correctly and how many checkpoints they reached in the corn maze during the allotted hour. The team that received the most points would win the challenge.
To enter the maze, the teams had to answer three questions asked by the each school's "headmistress."
The teams clambered into the corn maze, slipping and sliding on the mud. Hickman was the first team to enter the maze, trailed by Battle with Rock Bridge taking up the rear.
Although off to a slow start, the Rock Bridge teammates quickly found themselves debating the answers to the trivia questions.
Reminiscent of Harry's knowledgeable friend Hermione, Rock Bridge junior Madi Mertz corrected her teammate's pronunciation of skrewt from "skr-out" to "skr-oot."
"Hagrid would never do that," Rock Bridge senior Urmila Kuttikad responded after Rock Bridge senior Trisha Chaudhary offered up a possible answer to one question.
Hippogriffs or acromantulas? Little Whinging or Surrey? Did Harry's parents move to Godric's Hollow or was one of them from there?
Chaudhary kept a packet of 40 trivia questions, in which she jotted down answers after posing the questions to her teammates.
"It makes you feel good when you know answers to the questions," Mertz said.
Although they did not have to save themselves from Voldemort's wrath, they did have to contend with the weather — a slight drizzle and a 40-degree chill.
After exiting the corn maze, the three teams had to answer four questions to complete the challenge.
The rewards for taking first, second and third place, respectively: 20 points to Hickman; 15 points to Rock Bridge; 10 points to Battle.
The tournament wasn't the Hickman Dumbledore's Army club's first time hosting a major Harry Potter event. In the past two years, Hickman's club, in conjunction with the Columbia Kiwanis club, has raised $15,000 for Project Eliminate, which buys tetanus vaccines for Third World countries, Hickman teacher Terese Dishaw said.
For Hickman senior Anne Carter, Dumbledore's Army is more than a way to give back and get together with people who share the same passion.
"I think (Harry Potter has) really boosted my imagination, and I think it's made me think of all kinds of stories, reading and writing them," Carter said.
Two challenges remain until the winner of the trophy Gilzow promised is announced. She wouldn't tell what the last two challenges were but said the winner would be announced in the spring.
If she stays true to "The Goblet of Fire," there will be dragons and mermaids.
Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.