Van Buren Site Manager & Star Wars Fan

May 4 is a day celebrated worldwide as Star Wars Day. Its origin lies in the films’ most famous line: May the Force be with you! Star Wars is experiencing a new cultural renaissance through recently released and upcoming films and TV shows, a new section at Disney resorts, and an endless variety of toys, video games, clothing, and other memorabilia.

What does this have to do with Kids on Course? Let us consider what it would be like if some of our favorite Star Wars characters were in Kids on Course:

Princess Leia – princess, general, diplomat – Home Planet: Alderaan

Leia grew her leadership skills while participating in Girls on the Run at her local Alderaan Elementary School. Through an after-school Theatre enrichment, Leia learned more about public speaking and presenting to large groups. Leia lived far from her elementary, about 12 parsecs, so Kids on Course always made sure to have a transport ready to take her home after Learning Lab and Enrichment.

Through a home visit, Kids on Course staff got to know Leia’s father, Bail Organa. Mr. Organa shared with KOC staff that his dream for his daughter was for her to go to intergalactic college, and to become a queen.

In middle school, Kids on Course site staff encouraged Leia to take her leadership and speaking skills to the next level, and helped her get involved in Mock Trial and Show Choir. At times, Leia struggled with math, and got tutoring support through the after-school Kids on Course Learning Lab.

In high school Kids on Course continued to support Leia’s involvement in leadership activities, such as the debate team, student council, and as captain of the cross-country team. When Leia graduated from East Alderaan High School, Kids on Course offered her a college scholarship – because Leia stuck with the program: she got academic support when she needed it, and she stayed involved in extra-curricular activities.

After college, Kids on Course staff helped Leia land an internship as a diplomatic aide in the Imperial Senate. Her talents were quickly recognized and she was promoted to full time Diplomat with her own crew and space cruiser – the Tantive IV. Her father, an important diplomatic senator, sent her on a very important mission soon after her promotion. Leia went on to become a leader for the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War.

Luke Skywalker – farm boy, bush pilot, Jedi – Home Planet: Tatooine

Luke showed great aptitude for flying in an after-school T-16 Skyhopper Piloting enrichment at his local elementary school – so KOC got him hooked up with a Bid for Kids Scholarship to take private flight lessons, which he mastered very quickly because of his great sensitivity to the Force.

Luke’s experience on the moisture farm fixing condensers and evaporators gave him great interest in tinkering and robotics. Luke joined the KOC-sponsored Lego League team when he was in 4th grade, and they placed 2nd at the Mos Eisley All City Lego League Competition.

Through his middle school years, Luke struggled to regulate his emotions, often having outbursts in class and at home with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Kids on Course worked with Owen and Beru to get forms filled out for mental health counseling and a home visit program for family therapy through the local Tatooine branch of Tanager Place.

In high school, Luke’s sensitivity to the Force grew, but he still struggled socially. Kids on Course found a Jedi Master, Obi-wan Kenobi, to be a mentor for Luke. Obi-wan, known to locals as “Ben Kenobi,” taught Luke the ways of the Force. He also helped Luke process through his anger. Obi-wan was a great mentor, building relationships with many KOC students through an after-school Space Chess Club.

Obi-wan continued his relationship with Luke, and introduced him to Master Yoda, another mentor, while Luke was at the Jedi University on the planet Dagobah. Kids on Course offered Luke a college scholarship because, even though he struggled at times, Luke always sought out Kids on Course’ help when he knew he needed it.

After Jedi University, Luke went on to X-Wing pilot training at the Rebel Academy and became the most famous star pilot in the galaxy.

Luke and Leia were successful in Kids on Course because their families were engaged, they took part in enrichment activities, they got academic support when they needed it, and KOC eliminated barriers by providing transportation, mentors, and scholarships.

Though Kids on Course was not in existence a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we do provide these opportunities to kids here in Cedar Rapids, today, May the Fourth.