One for the Science Books

Students experience a total eclipse of the sun

Junior Skyler Hoffner and friends kicked back during the eclipse. “At Millard West it wasn’t as exciting because of the clouds,” Hoffner said. “It was cool that we all got glasses and got to go outside to see it since it was can be a once in a lifetime event.” photo by Annelise Punt

A once in a lifetime opportunity. A scientific phenomenon. A moment some people wait their entire lives to see.

A total eclipse of the sun was viewed by thousands of people in the United States on August 21st, 2017, and the people of the Midwest had a front row seat.

Some students decided to venture out to different parts of Nebraska to watch the eclipse, while others had the opportunity to experience this rare moment during school.

Lincoln, Beatrice and other small towns were some of the viewing spots many ventured to.

“My mom had to go to work in York the same day as the eclipse so I just went with her,” junior Matthew Huser said. “When we were driving there the traffic was ridiculous, but we got there in time for the eclipse.”

Students who traveled wanted to go to a spot of totality meaning the whole sun is covered by the moon. In Omaha, the moon covered about 98 percent of the sun instead of 100 percent.

“Everything went black and then around the moon there was a white ring,” Huser said. “When we got to take our glasses off it was a lot cooler than I was expecting.”

Even though some students missed school, many teachers were supportive of those who decided to travel in order to view the eclipse. One person who was especially excited for the students was assistant principal Dr. Jennifer Allen.

“What a great memory for families who got the opportunity to travel,” Allen said. “I want learning to be about connecting with your family and having those memories for a lifetime.”

For the students who viewed it from school, many precautions had to be taken. The planning dated back to May 2016 and student safety was the top priority on the day of the eclipse.

“The district provided the glasses and in May sent 28,000 pairs to the building,” Allen said. “We counted them out and had to make sure it lined up with everybody’s rosters.”

In the days leading up to the eclipse, safety videos were shown to the students during Quality Time. One of the videos gave information about what the actual eclipse was. The second video was about eye safety and how wearing your glasses was very important.

Another thing the administrators had to consider was the schedule of the day. It had to be altered so the viewing of the eclipse didn’t disrupt classes.

“We had to think about how we could be orderly in getting everybody access to see it and the challenge was it was during lunch time,” Allen said. “So we talked about it in amongst our administration team and how we could be the least disruptive, but also make sure things flowed pretty well.”

On the actual day of the eclipse, students went outside to their fire drill location during third block just a few minutes before the moon was going to cover the sun. A pair of eclipse glasses were distributed to every student, teacher and staff member in the school. The schedule only allowed everyone to watch the eclipse for 15 minutes. One thing that did make the viewing a bit of a challenge was the weather.

“The eclipse was kind of disappointing because of the clouds,” junior Sydney Dickerson said. “It got dark outside and it got a little cooler once it hit the 98 percent totality, but other than that you could kind of see the moon going over the sun.”

Although the eclipse fell short for some of it’s viewers, others were excited by the event.

“I thought it was cool because it doesn’t happen very often,” sophomore Anthony Miller. “So it was cool to be part of something that’s not going to happen for awhile.”

Whether it was seen at school or some open field in a small Nebraska town, this eclipse is  something that the people of the Midwest won’t forget.