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CPS celebrates return of solar eclipse after 100 years

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Walnut Hills High School’s new principal, John Chambers (center), dons his NASA-approved shades with students. Photo provided

By Asia Harris

The Cincinnati Herald

America was buzzing with excitement last Monday, anticipating the first solar eclipse since 1918 – perhaps the first or last of their lifetime. In Cincinnati, schools celebrated the occasion, eclipse protective shades in hand, from playgrounds, rooftops and football stadiums. Cincinnati public elementary schools that are part of the Explainers Program – an innovative program sponsored by GE Aviation and developed by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum – received NASA-approved glasses to allow all students and staff to view the eclipse. Other CPS schools secured donations to provide their students with glasses. The Walnut Hills High School Alumni Foundation, headed by Debbie Heldman, purchased eclipse protection sunglasses for the more than 3,000 students, plus the faculty and staff. Bryna Brass, director of Rothenberg Preparatory Academy’s Rooftop Garden Program, also created homemade eclipse viewing devices using cardboard and cereal boxes.

Some Rothenberg students gathered on the school’s rooftop garden. Math teacher Lisa Kelly explained to the sixth graders that as they looked for the eclipse “the sun would look like a cookie that had a bite taken out of it.” The former science teacher recently visited the Smithsonian Museum with students where they learned about the rotation of the moon and sun and what is happening in the solar system during an eclipse.

The solar eclipse amazes Maon Adams (front) and Kayin Avery (far right) and their friends at Walnut Hills.

Meanwhile, at Walnut Hills High School at 2:30 p.m., the football field was filled with “oohs” and “aahs” as the sky darkened, the stadium lights came on, and everyone witnessed a 93 percent solar eclipse. Senior Maon Adams said that teachers prepared the students well for the event. Another senior, Kayin Ivery, said, “My children and grandchildren probably won’t see this so I want to capture the moment for them.”

Cincinnati Public Schools’ Science Department provided a 2017 Solar Eclipse Toolkit to all schools that included a parent permission slip, projects for students, web resources from NASA, a viewing safety guide and a list of approved vendors offering glasses that had been verified by an accredited testing laboratory to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for solar viewers.

Perhaps the most unexpected outcome came from Brooklyn, a Rothenberg fourth grader: She said that because of the solar eclipse, she no longer is afraid of the dark.

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