Growing up, Danielle Strenko remembers watching the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS.
A couple of years ago, she found herself at PopCon, where she came across The Outer Rim Praxeum Lightsaber School, a group of individuals who use their passion and skills within the Star Wars realm to fight one another with lightsabers.
She joined immediately, knowing it would be a good stress-reliever — and for the Star Wars experience, of course.
The Outer Rim Praxeum Lightsaber School was established in late August 2015. The main mission is to “have fun” as well as to use the hobby to “give back to the community,” according to president of the school, Jeff Norton.
As far as the curriculum, there are two classifications a student can be a part of: Jedi or Sith.
Strenko, who is a student, has been a part of the Lightsaber School for a little over a year. She is a rank two Jedi Consular. Her goal for the upcoming year is to move up to a four.
Norton said each student has an individualized curriculum based on a Faction test to determine what is best for optimum learning experience. The test is like a personality test and it gives an idea of where that student may fall within the school’s curriculum. Ages 16 and up are welcome to join, but must consult Norton to discuss possible injuries. Those who are 16 are also required to have parents attend all events and practices.
To be a part of the group, one must observe one practice — that way the student can make sure they enjoy the environment — as well as take the faction test, sign a waiver and get involved. Currently, Norton said, the school is in its off-season, due to the holidays, but should start back up soon.
“If you’re willing to put in the time, we’re willing to accept you,” Norton said.
Students meet to practice Tuesdays and Saturdays at Four Horsemen Comics in the Meadowbrook Mall, after, but Norton said that can change based on the students’ schedules.
Norton will also host classes outside at Palatine Park, in Fairmont, when the weather is warm.
Last year, The Outer Rim Praxeum Lightsaber School participated in the JediCon in New Martinsville. The group did fundraising for the WVU Medicine Children’s, and raised $500.
“We wanted to do something that was local to the community since we’re a small organization of the same community,” Norton said.
Looking into 2020, Norton said there are over 20 events on the radar. One of the events the school plans to attend is HerdCon, Marshall University’s Annual Pop Culture Convention, which will be in mid-March.
Norton said his personal goals for this year, within the school, are to see more student growth and see the students rank up within their classifications.
Norton supports other lightsaber groups. There is a collective group in the area known as the Tri-State saber community, six lightsaber groups, including The Outer Rim Praxeum Lightsaber School.
“At the end of the day, we’re all Star Wars fans … and we love beating each other with sticks,” Norton said.