Star Wars club members spray salt water to rescue a model of Han Solo frozen in "carbonite" (ice) and duel with "light sabers" (foam pool noodles). (Emily Benson photos)
Star Wars club members spray salt water to rescue a model of Han Solo frozen in "carbonite" (ice) and duel with "light sabers" (foam pool noodles). (Emily Benson photos)

Jedi masters and their Padawan apprentices recently invaded St. Thomas the Apostle School in Delmar to save the galaxy from danger — and were back just in time for popsicles.

The battle between good and evil, which took place at the St. Thomas parish courtyard across the street from the school, was the last meeting of the year for the school’s popular Star Wars club: an after-school group dedicated to loving, learning and discussing everything that is “Star Wars.”

Kerry Mendez is the fourth-grade teacher at St. Thomas who oversees what she calls the “controlled chaos” of the Star Wars club. Mrs. Mendez has assistance from two parent volunteers, Lisa Ball and Robyn Keeler.

A few years ago, a former St. Thomas teacher created the Star Wars club after seeing a group of boys at the school who were engrossed by the movie saga. Mrs. Mendez took over the club this year.

“I’m a creative person, and it lets me be creative,” she explained.

The club is open to students in fifth grade and up. At the end of each school year, fourth-grade “Padawans” join the “Jedi master” club members to be “trained in the ways of the force” and prepare for entering the club in the fall.

The club members and fourth-graders are placed in groups where they must work together to navigate a “Star Wars”-themed obstacle course.

Grace, a fifth-grader, said she has loved “Star Wars” for as long as she can remember. She likes the club because of its emphasis on team-building, noting: “We had to work as a team while doing the activities.”

During one obstacle, students threw bean bags at the “Death Star,” a space station and superweapon from the “Star Wars” movies. One student, Sophia, explained that “there’s a part of the Death Star we have to hit that destroys it.”

Club members have been eager to attend the newly-released movie, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which tells the story of pilot Han Solo’s early years. The club went to see the film the Saturday after their last meeting; a total of 48 students and parent volunteers attended.

Before the field trip, fourth-grader Kaylee admitted that she’d already seen the film once, but “I can’t ruin [the movie] for everybody else.”

Brandon, also in fourth grade, said that he goes “back and forth with ‘Star Wars.’ I don’t like that they killed Luke Skywalker” in a previous movie, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

His sister, Grace, chimed in: “He doesn’t like some of the endings because of the deaths.”

Mrs. Mendez said that, even though she’s not a “‘Star Wars’ expert,” the kids are quick to help her out. They know direct quotes from the movies, which character is from what planet and what happens to each character in what film.

At the last club meeting, Mrs. Keeler questioned the students: “The number-one teacher of the Jedi is who?”

“Yoda!” the kids yelled.

Mrs. Mendez said the meeting activities change each week, but they all have a running theme of something “Star Wars”-related. The club has played a “Star Wars” version of the game Trouble, made “Star Wars” origami creations and, on May 4 — observed as “Star Wars Day” by fans because of the pun, “May the fourth (force) be with you” — students ate snacks and watched the “Lego Star Wars” movie.

Mrs. Mendez said her fourth-grade students have been waiting since September for their Padawan apprenticeships to begin.

“All year, my students have been asking, ‘When do we get to join?’ They get really excited.”