Solar event eclipses school’s focus

On August 21, 2017, North America experienced the first total solar eclipse since 1979. Staff and students at WHS gathered on the football field to participate in the event.

When organizing a school-wide viewing, Timothy Meyer, science teacher, first had the idea. He then contacted Bruce French, math and science division head, who contacted the division heads at the other schools in District 214.

Mr. French initially thought that organizing the event would be straightforward. The process started by deciding that the building and the science department would split the cost for the glasses required to view the eclipse. Although several teachers had ideas about what would happen during the event, safety concerns soon became the top priority. To address liabilities that the school would face if students damaged their eyes, WHS had to work with the district to create a permission slip.

After working out the details regarding the permission form, the organization of the event continued smoothly. Instead of asking teachers to collect the forms, students were responsible for presenting them as their “tickets” when walking out to the football field. Although WHS planned to have more activities at the event, including passing out oreo cookies, these ideas had to be dropped to make room for more important safety concerns.

“We had to email blast parents, we had multiple meetings. Students probably didn’t notice this, but we adjusted the schedule so that lunch periods were different, not during the eclipse. Gym classes were all moved in for the day,” Mr. French said.

Despite the initial concerns regarding the organization of the event, Mr. French feels as though the eclipse was a success because the students acted in a responsible manner and because students could appreciate the event from different perspectives such as art and math.

“Just that camaraderie element. This is something unique that happens rarely. We were all there to do it together. So I thought that the students were so cooperative, the faculty was into it, and it was simple. The process was simple. Let’s all go out, let’s put on our glasses, let’s look at it, and let’s leave. So that worked out pretty well,” Mr. French said.

Matt Hoffman, senior, also enjoyed the camaraderie that came along with the event.

“It got everyone out of class. Lots of people seemed to enjoy it. It was like a once in a lifetime experience. So I’d say it was a success. Overall, I enjoyed it. Going out and talking and being able to see it. It was cool,” Hoffman said.

Lindsey Herazy, junior, thought that the event was mostly a success. “It was nice that we got the glasses, but obviously, because it was cloudy, we couldn’t see it. It was also really cold out,” Herazy said.

Patrick Shami, junior, agrees with Herazy.

“I’d say it’d be like a mixture of both because when it actually happened, it was kind of hard to spot where the moon was. Then, as soon as the moon left, you could spot where the sun was and you could see the eclipse. But you couldn’t see the total solar eclipse,” Shami said.