Unlike most, students view ‘breath-taking’ eclipse at Russell schools


RUSSELL, Ky. (WSAZ) -- While thousands of kids had their school canceled or dismissed early, hundreds of students in Russell, Kentucky got the chance to look at the eclipse in real-time outdoors.

It's an experience that students like Taylor Robinette and Will Prater say they will never forget.

"It took my breath away," said Robinette, a senior. "I've never seen anything like it. I thought it was so beautiful."

"It's one of the most amazing things I think I've ever seen," added Prater, a freshman.

Eclipse-related education was part of many lesson plans, English, math and, of course, science.

Vanessa Stevens' class measured the falling temperature as well as any changes to wildlife activity or noises, part of efforts across the country.

"It makes me very proud to be part of this school system too,” said Stevens. “We're actually taking that opportunity and they cared enough to get the glasses in for the kids to use."

Glasses weren't the only way to view the eclipse at the high school. The thumbnail of near totality, almost 91 percent in Russell, reflecting through the leaves on the tree as well as through a kitchen colander -- a real-life lesson on the properties of light.

While safety concerns canceled school for many across the area and Prater said it was tough to keep his glasses on, "we've been told all day not to because I don't want to be blind."

Stevens said her plan was to take one look at the eclipse, then take one look at her class, to make sure they were being safe.

Superintendent Sean Horne said the plan was to remind kids throughout the day of the dangers, spread them out around the school property so they could be better be monitored and spread teachers and staff throughout.

"Safety is of the utmost importance so that is at the top of the food chain as far as what we do,” he said. “But we really felt today, by spreading folks out, giving kids the experience that they'll remember for a lifetime, it was definitely worth not canceling school."

Horne adds even if others were dismissing, it’s an opportunity the district couldn't pass up.

"We felt it was an experience that kids will always look back at and remember," he said.

Judging by that standard, this education lesson is an overwhelming success, a day that Robinette said she will remember, “probably forever."

"Probably the rest of my life,” said Prater. “I'll be able to tell my children about it."

All kids in the Russell district received a pair of eclipse glasses. But because of safety concerns, kindergartners to third-graders remained indoors.

Like many other districts, parents could pull their children out early as an excused absence.

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