Not long ago in a middle school not far away, the force was strong in Ardmore.
The halls of Ardmore Middle School looked like the Mos Eisley Cantina on Thursday in celebration of May 4, culturally deemed “May the Fourth Be With You Day,” a reference to Star Wars movies. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the release of A New Hope, the film that started the world-wide cultural phenomena of Star Wars, the school planned a day completely dedicated to Star Wars lore.
The students’ day began just like one of the classic films, with only the yellow credits crawling through the stars missing. The Ardmore High School orchestra performed several of John Williams’ musical pieces from the films, with an added flare. Once they began playing, the lights were dimmed and LED lights on the orchestras bows lit up to symbolize light sabers, the films iconic weapons wielded by Jedi’s.
Students and staff alike dressed in Star Wars costumes, with plenty of
Princess Leias, Luke Skywalkers and Darth Vaders in the halls of AMS.
Kevin Parsons, AMS teacher, said he was first approached about the Star Wars dedicated day about a month ago, when AMS principal Cindy Huddleston called his classroom phone. Huddleston told Parsons they were going to have a Star Wars day and she asked him to begin planning activities.
This was no Jedi mind trick, the Star Wars day was actually going to happen.
Parsons said he knew the day would be a large task, but he knew he could get some help — AMS orchestra teacher Jill Hagan.
“‘I know exactly who to go talk to,’” Parsons recalled saying. “I immediately went to Jill because I know she is the connoisseur of Star Wars.”
“I’m a giant Star Wars fan,” Hagan said, recalling Parsons coming into her room and mentioning the May 4 event. Hagan said several students overheard the conversation and began providing input.
“They came up with tons of ideas,” Hagan said. “It’s kind of like a carnival situation but Star Wars themed.”
After brainstorming and weeks of preparation, the two had several activities planned, including a “build your own lightsaber” booth, challenges to impersonate famous characters Yoda and Chewbacca, several Star Wars themed physical challenges (like the Jabba the Hut leg race), Storm Trooper target training and a Jedi lightsaber battle to end the day.
With the circle of the year nearly complete, a break from the stress of tests and school is just what the Medical Droid ordered.
“I think it’s good for the students and I think it’s good for the teachers just to have a day like this,” he said. “You’re not as serious and you get to have just a good time and have fun. I think it’s a well, long awaited thing that will be super good for them.
“I think it is a great day for them to have at the end of the year — just to be rewarded for the hard work that they’ve done ever since August.”
Huddleston said the day is not only to give the students a stress-free day before finals, but to bring the school together. Huddleston hopes to make the day not only an annual event at the middle school, but to spread the fun day across the district. Huddleston said Star Wars offers a vast opportunity for academic lessons, including story telling elements, the cultural and world-wide significance of the movies, character traits and other life lessons.
Dedicating a day to the students is also a part of a culture revamp at the middle school, something Huddleston said has come a long way from being a dream in the stars.
“Step by step we’re making a change,” she said. “It’s something we can come together with and just have fun.”