Located deep within the grand Appalachian Mountains, more specifically upon the peak of Mount Greylock, lies an old castle in the middle of a new world. Many know of such an origin story for this magnificent school, all beginning with Isolt Sayre. The story of Isolt, of course, evolved from her tragic beginning to her departure for America until meeting a very wise, but somewhat irritable Pukwudgie to be named William.
As the story tells, we know that Isolt left her home country of Ireland due to her being hunted down by her estranged aunt, Gormlaith Gaunt who was responsible for the untimely death of Isolt’s parents. However, before Isolt had figured such things out, she had learned already an immense amount of magic, enough to keep herself at bay as she fled Ireland. As time progressed, and she settled down and began to develop her school that grew exponentially over the years, it seemed her past had caught up to her. Gormlaith Gaunt had managed to find Isolt, her husband James Steward, and her adopted and biological children. Fortunately for them, William the Pukwudgie came to the ultimate rescue that day and killed Gormlaith Gaunt with a tipped arrow. For once in her life Isolt Sayre could rest somewhat easily, although rest she did not considering she lived up to 100 years old with her husband James. However, with the death of a joint Headmaster-Headmistress duo came the daunting question of who was to take over the leadership of their self-made school.
Naturally, the answer would lie with either Chadwick or Webster Boot, the adopted children of Isolt Sayre, or even further the biological children, Martha and Rionach. Yet, each of the children had gone their own separate ways. Chadwick Boot, the eldest, had decided to take his studies elsewhere and married a Mexican Healer, but continued his prominence within North America. Webster Boot had become the time equivalent of an Auror. Martha Steward, a squib, had married a No-Maj and continued life outside of the wizarding world. Therefore, this left Rionach Steward, the youngest of them all, who was said to have stayed at Ilvermorny in teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts.
Upon their deathbed, James and Isolt were unsure of the fate of their school’s next leader. As they were growing older though, they were definitely on the lookout for another couple to run the school as a joint leadership. At one point in time, they even considered setting up their youngest daughter, Rionach, with a decent man who also taught at Ilvermorny so that the two would then be the obvious replacement for the original Headmaster-Headmistress duo. Much to their dismay, Rionach was not interested in settling down and looking for a relationship. While she was teaching, Rionach was also studying more, receiving knowledge from other places and schools (with the help of her brother Chadwick Boot) so that she could develop new theories and ways to teach her classes. She figured, of course, that through this explicit display of academic prowess, it proved that she was independent enough to run Ilvermorny without a shred of doubt.
This dilema reached a boiling point, of course, for James and Isolt knew their end was approaching. At a visit to her parents, Rionach pleaded for them to give her their blessing to lead Ilvermorny as Headmistress. Ultimately, the two agreed, but on one rather odd condition. Isolt told her daughter, “Talk to the Horned Serpent, he’ll help you.” Obviously confused, and caught up in the moment, Rionach agreed to this condition with tears in her eyes. She had never thought they would let her lead alone, but all those years persevering had paid off.
Rionach Steward was then Headmistress of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and ruled with an iron fist. She was considered to be very strict and methodical in her disciplinary and educational policies, yet she was also one of the most progressive leaders in that she wished to expand the known boundaries of the curriculum of each subject taught at that point. However, there came a point where she hit a metaphorical wall. Suddenly, things took a turn for the worse, and there seemed to be a decline in students attending Ilvermorny for purposes of working either in the mines, or on the farms. Rionach was put in a sticky situation, for the last thing she wanted would be to close the school for as much as a year. At this point, her mother’s words rang in her head, and Rionach knew what she had to do.
Standing in the grand rotunda were the statues of the magical creatures representative of their respective Ilvermorny House: Thunderbird, Pukwudgie, Wampus, and Horned Serpent. Also amongst them was the Headmistress, staring at each of them in turn and becoming reminiscent of her own Sorting Ceremony. That particular Sorting, there wasn’t many Horned Serpents that were sorted, but that never bothered Rionach- she had friends in the other Houses. It would never occur to her that she would be back in this room, essentially pleading to a statue for help.
The voice left as soon as it came, “You’re looking at the wrong one,” it said. Rionach was taken aback, thinking that she had hallucinated the statue speaking, until she realized that she was half-correct. Upon the statue was, incidentally, a Horned Serpent, staring right into the eyes of the Ilvermorny Headmistress. Rionach knew from a young age that she could understand some unknown language that she’d hear on vacations or leisurely strolls around the grounds, but she never put it together that it was Parseltongue, language of the snakes.
The Horned Serpent left her with this advice,“You’re smarter than you look, Rionach Sayre, as you expanded your knowledge and adapted to new magics, you must adapt to the times.” At first, Rionach had no idea what to do with that advice, taking into consideration that the Horned Serpent addressed her using her mother’s maiden name. It had finally occurred to her at the most opportune moment, before the end of the Fall Term. Rionach had decided that for select students who were working, that she would be flexible in scheduling time to give them a proper wizarding education. This rather bold move from such a steadfast Headmistress came as a shock, but ended up being widely accepted from the Ilvermorny population.
This would become the peak of Rionach Steward’s rule over Ilvermorny, as her later years were great years that continued to push the school towards its peak in academic curriculum, but nothing too dramatic had occurred. Yet, with the conclusion of one reign leads to the uncertainty of the next. Rionach had no idea who would follow her footsteps as the next Headmaster, since she didn’t have many students that were particularly close to her nor any that were ideal of leading an entire school.
Once again, Rionach decided to heed her mother’s words and sought the wisdom of a Horned Serpent. Unfortunately for her, the Horned Serpent was nowhere to be found, as she searched the great rotunda along with the vast Ilvermorny School grounds. This left Rionach in a dark place, to the point where she rarely left her office, only for mealtimes and end-of-term speeches which were said to be very forced. That particular year ended for Ilvermorny on a rather somber note, considering that Rionach knew her time was coming to a close, but she had no one to take over that is, until a rather short Herbology professor decided to speak up. This man’s name was Philip Aberthorn, a very clever and ambitious man who was very knowledgeable in his area of expertise, and others.
Philip took Rionach by surprise, for she would never have anticipated such a plea from a rather docile professor who rarely spoke to her unless absolutely necessary. Granted, Rionach held a bit of prejudice towards the man, since he wasn’t a Horned Serpent and was instead a Pukwudgie. She knew, of course, that she was to rid of this prejudice should she grant her blessing to lead the school. Her decision hadn’t been made until she had fallen one evening in her office, and a Pukwudgie came to her rescue, alluding to the very situation that revolved around her. It was the moment the creature had caught her, and helped her recover that Rionach knew that the future was bright for Ilvermorny.
The following year, Philip Aberthorn was declared Headmaster of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Now the short man wasn’t so much of a game changer for the school, as he kept a majority of Rionach Steward’s policies but reintroduced certain principles that were set forth by James and Isolt Steward. One of these principles was the joint Headmaster-Headmistress duo, as Aberthorn fell in love over the summer term with a woman by the name of Beatrice Herthford. Miss Herthford was like Philip in that she was a very knowledgeable, stubborn student being a Wampus herself in that she was an innate leader. This drive for leadership led her down the path to become one of the nominees for becoming President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America. However, with such a great occasion, this put Philip into an interesting dilemma, for he didn’t want to have his lover manage both the Magical Community and a school at the same time, but he didn’t want to leave her out of helping him lead.
The answer became apparent to Philip, however, one fateful November evening. Philip came to his office one day to find an envelope with the Herthford seal on it. He opened it up, hoping to find plans of a potential picnic among the Ilvermorny grounds. Instead, the letter detailed how Beatrice could not be with Philip anymore as she decided to be focused on her duties as a politician within the wizarding community. Little did Philip know, Beatrice was seeing another man, and due to the rather tight-knit American wizarding community word travels very fast. As soon as Philip found out, he isolated himself upon the roof of Ilvermorny and, in his depressive rage, began to cast a plethora of flora. After casting, he then went around to identify all the flora to distract himself from going back to reality.
Over the subsequent days, the students of Ilvermorny avoided the roofs, and even the windows in fear that roots or branches full of leaves would burst through. Furthermore, the staff of Ilvermorny began to become very worrisome over the distraught Headmaster and what this meant for the leadership of the school. Fortunately, Philip recovered within a few days, but the damage had been done. A variety of flowers, tree branches, roots, and other flora were spread all throughout the roof of Ilvermorny, even breaking apart a small building that was used for storage. Slightly panicked, Philip tried to think of a counter-charm, but realized the only way to remove of his flora would be to set it ablaze. The thought, naturally, grew very strong within his distraught mind, but reason took hold and he put away his wand.
It took a few weeks for Philip, with the help of the Ilvermorny Pukwudgies, to clear pathways along the roof and return to a state of relative normalcy. However, normalcy was never achieved, as the staff of Ilvermorny was starting to grow weary of the temperamental Headmaster. They insisted on initiating an ultimatum upon the Headmaster, that they would remove him or he would leave peacefully to fully cope with his situation. The staff truly loved Philip as Headmaster, he just needed time to sort things out. Philip, upon receiving such an ultimatum, faced it with a mature manner, and announced his resignation within the next few days.
This display of Ilvermorny staff solidarity set the precedent for Headmasters to follow, in that if the staff as a consensus or strong majority believe that the Headmaster, Headmistress, or joint duo are unfit for their role, they can initiate such an ultimatum.
Following the departure of Philip, many Headmasters and Headmistresses took their place, with one Headmaster-Headmistress duo within their time. This duo in question was very prominent amongst the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. One of them being descendant of the famous Calderon-Boot family (descendant of Chadwick Boot) and the other being another strong Ilvermorny force amongst the staff. Their names were Mary and Morgan Calderon-Boot, and together the duo leading the school had instilled a variety of strong policies. Many of these policies was a stronger emphasis on the subjects and their application to the real (wizarding) world and its unpredictable nature. Yet, as their age wore on, their views of such policies reversed and they began to become very stoic in their open-mindedness.
Once again, the staff of Ilvermorny began to grow weary of the leadership, and looked to a particular Charms professor to initiate what became to be known as Article 18. This Charms professor, however, was hesitant to do such a thing as he believed that they would dispose of Article 18 and fire him on the spot. It wasn’t that he disagreed with their decaying capability to be open to new ideas, he feared for his students’ fate in education. He figured there was another way through which they could leave their post as Headmaster-Headmistress. It was that night that he found the idea he was looking for.
Throughout the subsequent months, this Charms professor began to grow close with the Calderon-Boots and they began to trust him more, seeing in him the potential to lead Ilvermorny just as they had. At one significant point in time, one fateful April evening, the Calderon-Boots had confessed that they were growing tired of their positions and wanted to leave that year. They were going to ask the Charms professor to do it long before he even became close to them. It was at that point, that the professor’s plan was foiled, for they said to have realized the plot as soon as he greeted them one morning. They may have been old, but they were not that shallow. The two were slightly disappointed in their prodigy, but a part of them was proud enough that this professor, a natural Thunderbird, was persistent enough in finding his calling to be a Headmaster. That night, Mary and Morgan Calderon-Boot had granted Niles Montgomery their blessing to become the next Headmaster of Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
There was much that Niles had planned to do with Ilvermorny, especially in opening up to new ideas and magical innovations through communication with the other schools across the pond. Unfortunately, throughout the 1920’s, there is a sudden rise of a particular dark wizard and this limited international communication at times, but that didn’t stop Niles from trying to perfect his school’s reputation. Furthermore, he figured it best to finally become allied with some of the sister schools. There is much in store for the Headmaster, and what will be accomplished of Ilvermorny. The future for the American wizarding school is looking bright, and hopefully will find the light within the rise of a dark time brought by a dark wizard.