May the fourth be with you… East Side Elementary celebrate virtual field day with Star Wars theme

Published 5:18 pm Monday, May 4, 2020

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The creative juices continue to flow at East Side Elementary School as on Monday the school had a virtual field day and topped everything off for students by having Storm Troopers on hand to hand out meals to the students who are taking advantage of the school system’s food program.
One could easily see the student’s excitement as they pulled through the pickup line at the school and some couldn’t resist jumping out of their vehicles and having a photo taken with the Storm Troopers.
“We belong to a club called the 501st Legion,” said East Side fifth grade teacher Phil Ledford and a Storm Trooper for the day. “We are a worldwide Star Wars costuming club that does children’s charity work throughout the world.
“It started out in 1997 with four members and now we are at 16,000 members in 64 different countries around the world. Thanks to the internet we are all connected and share our love for Star Wars by helping our communities and our kids.”
Local elementary schools normally have field days as the school year gets closer to an end. However, with the COVID-19 closing schools, there had to be another way to celebrate with the students and faculty.
“The idea of the Star Wars field day obviously with the COVID-19 and schools being closed, we decided to go virtual and have a virtual field day,” Ledford said. “We started out as simple as some of the local guys in the Legion suiting up and demonstrating how the students should perform the various games at home.
“From there, I talked to a couple of people and I thought it would be a good idea to put the video together to get some of the other guys to pitch in and say hello and send some well wishes to the students.”
It didn’t take long for Ledford’s idea to go viral and the results were unbelievable.
“I put some information out there on the internet and started getting responses back from around the United States and even the world. I started getting things from Denver, Colorado, and some from Virginia and California,” Ledford continued.
“Then I started getting responses from Germany, Columbia South America, a couple of guys in Israel, and Hong Kong. It was really overwhelming that they all wanted to send their well wishes to the kids.”
Those responded were doing things to let the kids at East Side know that everyone all around the world was in this together and were hoping that their efforts would bring some cheer to the students.
“They were making signs and sending pictures and videos of themselves,” added Ledford. “It just let the kids know that there was a group of people from around the world who are in this thing together and we are all kind of sending our love and support to the kids.
“I pushed it out last night and it really took off. It’s on our East Side Elementary YouTube page and its pretty neat.”
Being a Star Wars fan, Ledford said that this wasn’t the first time that he had participated in events. However, Monday’s virtual day at East Side definitely planted the faces of the kids on his heart that he won’t soon forget.
“May fourth for us is a big day for Star Wars fans,” Ledford said. “We get as much enjoyment out of seeing the kids as they do us. We decided to come out here and do this. I have done bigger events on May the fourth but to me, this is a much bigger thing just seeing the kids.”
Storm Troopers for the day were local resident Patrick O’Quinn, Ledford, and James Holly from Asheville, North Carolina. Ledford said all members of the 501st Legion actually are responsible for making their own uniforms to meet standards of the actually characters from Star Wars.
The video can be viewed once again on the East Side Elementary YouTube page.

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