'Over The Moon': Students Witness Solar Eclipse At Vienna School

VIENNA, VA — On Monday afternoon, hundreds of students spilled out of Fairfax County’s Colvin Run Elementary School, but it wasn’t to leave school. Instead, they got to witness a rare celestial event: the solar eclipse.

Vienna and the rest of the region weren’t in the path of the total solar eclipse, but students and staff got to see a partial solar eclipse. At its peak around 3:19 p.m., just under 90 percent of the sun was covered by the moon.

The next time the continental U.S. gets to experience a total solar eclipse will be in 2044.

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“Seeing the incredibly rare astrological phenomenon that’s the eclipse, it feels like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event because the next time this is going to happen is 20 years from now,” 5th grader Carter told Patch.

Principal Ken Junge told Patch the school has been planning the solar eclipse viewing even before the school year started. He said the school wanted to plan something while ensuring safety. All kids and staff received solar eclipse glasses to safely view the eclipse, as NASA recommends.

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“You only get so many eclipses in your lifetime,” said Junge. “It is not lost on them how special this event is.”

Susan Blackwell, the STEAM Lab teacher at Colvin Run Elementary, told Patch she taught every grade about the solar eclipse, from learning how it works to making artwork. They even made their own NASA-recommended pinhole viewers, an indirect way of looking at the eclipse.

“They’ve been so excited, just over the moon excited,” said Blackwell.

The teacher noted some students’ families were able to travel to an area where the total solar eclipse was viewable. But Colvin Run’s outdoor field day gave others a chance to witness at least a partial eclipse.

“Some of them haven’t seen a solar eclipse before,” said Blackwell. “Most kids won’t be able to experience it if they’ve been in school the whole time.”

Fourth grader Natalie enjoyed how the sun appeared yellow through the solar eclipse glasses and learned in her STEAM class how it gets darker during the eclipse.

“I personally think this is an awesome experience that the school actually trusts the kids to be good,” Natalie said of the solar eclipse viewing.

Carter was happy that his school let all students see the solar eclipse. For some like him, it was the first time seeing a solar eclipse.

“In other schools, seeing this won’t happen. I feel very lucky to see the eclipse in full view,” said Carter.

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