A Millennium High School student can be credited with bringing Star Wars to his fellow classmates.
Zak Filler, a junior, took it upon himself to write to George Lucas — personally — to ask the director of the "Star Wars" trilogy for permission to use his copyrighted Millennium Falcon logo on a school sweatshirt. And to his surprise, his wish was granted.
"I am a big Star Wars fan," Filler admitted, "a bit on the nerdy side."
The young man is the toast of the student body, perhaps two thirds of whom now own a school sweat shirt featuring the spaceship craft with the school's name and its sports team, the Falcons. The sweat shirt complements the extant school logo, also a falcon. The bird, that is.
It all started last year, when students at the small alternative school were lobbying the administration for new school sweat shirts, according to Principal Jamie Adams.
"A group of students got excited about the Millennium Falcon spaceship," Adams said. "We promote students taking their own initiative and Zak took it upon himself to write Lucas."
The school spirit still rests with the beloved bird, Adams says.
"We still feel we're the Falcons," she emphasized. "We don't think of (our mascot) as a spaceship."
"I wasn't really expecting (a response)," Filler said, "maybe one of those generic letters that say 'we appreciate your interest but...' "
But a response came back from the Lucas Films public relations department saying that the board of directors had met on the issue and provided consent for the school to use the spacecraft's likeness on one article of clothing.
That delighted Filler and his classmates, many of whom had rallied around his efforts to do something special for a student body that is individual and unique.
For Jan Lewis, a longtime teacher at Millennium High, the story has a nice symmetry to it. Lewis suggested the Falcon name back in the school's early days.
"When we needed a mascot and yearbook name to go with Millennium the first thing that came into my head was 'falcon'," she said.
The symbol of the ship that was piloted by Han Solo works nicely with the school's spirit, Lewis said.
"It's not the fanciest ship in the star fleet, but when the chips were down it could really maneuver," she said. "If it broke down it could get fixed in a pinch and come through."
She reminded Filler of the story during his quest to secure permission for use of the Millennium Falcon likeness.
With the help of parent clubs, the sweat shirts soon were ordered. Completing the depth of community involvement in the project, Howard Levine of Alliance Graphics did the printing at a reduced cost.
According to Dr. Deah Schwartz, Filler's mother and one of the parents involved in organizing the project, about 50 shirts in all have been sold, to a student body that totals only in the 70s.
According to Schwartz, the project is not just intergalactic — it's intergenerational, too.
"The kids love them, and the parents love them," she said.
"All of the parents saw the Star Wars movies the first time around and now all the kids seem to love them just as much."
As much as Filler seems to have the knack for corporate networking, it seems there's something different in the student's future. He plays bass — both acoustic, stand-up and electric — and his musical projects range from a downtown Oakland jazz workshop to a rock'n'roll group, Sonic Overdrive.
Sounds like this "Star Wars" theme is catching.