Students across the campus of Allen County Schools left the classrooms Monday afternoon to go outside and view the Great American Eclipse---capping off days of preparation for an event unlike anything students in Allen County had ever witnessed.
“I’m excited and I’m hoping to see how it comes around and makes something I have never seen before,” were the words of Allen County Intermediate Center student Shayna Britt. “I think it will be all my teachers have talked about.”
District students---with parental permission---were taken outside around 12:45 p.m. to begin watching the eclipse’s progression. Using viewing glasses provided by Western Kentucky University, students could safely gaze upwards, seeing the moon move across the face of the sun.
As the eclipse progressed, the picture-perfect warm day grew darker and darker as the moon obscured the light coming to the Earth. The temperature began to drop, building excitement for totality. A smartphone app---called the Solar Eclipse Timer---used GPS tracking to count down the minutes and seconds to totality, thus allowing students to know the exact second that the sun disappeared completely behind the moon. The app then counted the time down to the moment the sun’s rays would reappear---reminding students listening over the public address system--to put their glasses back on just prior to the appearance of the “diamond”, the moment when the first rays of light burst forth from around the moon.
Afterwards, as full light slowly returned, students reflected on the event that had unfolded before their eyes.
“It was gorgeous,” noted high school student Faith Murley. “It was a gift from God.”
High school senior Nichole Carver struggled to find the words to describe darkness in the middle of the day.
“It was breath-taking,” Carver said. “They are no words to describe what it was. It was very exciting when you actually see it happen. It was actually more than what my teachers had been talking about.”
At each school, educators had spent days discussing the upcoming event. Videos were watched on eclipses and safety, cereal-box viewers were constructed, and artwork was created---all designed to educate and build excitement. Each viewing location also had 4x6 foot sheets of white boards to allow students the opportunity to view “shadow snakes’---a rare eclipse phenomenal that appears at some eclipses.
“I’m too amazed,” high school student Trey Brown added.
Students from the James E. Bazzell Middle School were amazed as well.
“I was impressed by how fast it got dark,” added Cory Carter. “I had never seen anything like it.”
“I really loved it,” noted Mary Grace Farley. “My favorite part was when it got to totality.”
“The eclipse was pretty cool,” Riley Marsh noted. “It was a one in a lifetime event.”
Kids at the Allen County Primary Center watched the eclipse under close supervision of their teachers, additional District staff, and high school students recruited to help in the event. The youngest students watched the eclipse through their glasses---glasses surrounded by specially crafted shields to aid in eye protection.
Joining Allen County students and staff on campus to watch the event were students and chaperones from Male High School in Louisville.
“We are not in totality in Louisville,” explained Male science teacher Jeff Wright. “At an in-service about the eclipse during the summer at WKU, I met some great friends from Allen County so I asked if we could come down. We have about 50 students.”
In addition, officials with the Kentucky Department of Education and Kentucky Teacher magazine were on the campus to document the event, take photographs, and talk with students and educators. The story will appear in the magazine later in the summer.