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updated: 8/22/2017 6:58 PM

Indoors or out, schools make most of eclipse experience

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  • Kindergartner Sophia San Fillippo cranes her neck to watch the solar eclipse from Wayne Elementary School on Monday.

      Kindergartner Sophia San Fillippo cranes her neck to watch the solar eclipse from Wayne Elementary School on Monday.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Third-graders at Wayne Elementary School hold their glasses tight as they watch the solar eclipse on Monday.

      Third-graders at Wayne Elementary School hold their glasses tight as they watch the solar eclipse on Monday.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

Melissa Sabatino, principal of Willow Bend School in Rolling Meadows, feared a backlash when she announced that an outdoor eclipse viewing was canceled because the viewing glasses weren't up to standards.

"You canceled the eclipse!" one student told her upon hearing the news.

Yet, parents were far more understanding, and many thanked Sabatino for putting students' safety first.

"They were so gracious," she said Tuesday. "What I was so reluctant to do turned out to be a very nice interaction with our parents. That was very gratifying and relief-giving."

And Willow Bend made the best of its unplanned time indoors when Monday's eclipse arrived, watching NASA's live video feed that featured views from its research aircraft, high-altitude balloons, satellites and specially modified telescopes. Also, a former student who attended several NASA youth training camps, including Advanced Space Academy, shared his experiences during two morning student assemblies.

"They were hanging on his every word," Sabatino said.

And the 500 pairs of eclipse glasses not on the approved list of the American Astronomical Society were returned for a full $200 refund, Sabatino said.

At Wayne Elementary School, meanwhile, virtually everyone got to go outside. There, Principal Marybeth Whitney-DeLaMar bought solar glasses for her 340 students and more than 40 employees. There were even a few left over for a few visiting parents and Wayne police officers.

Her concern -- keeping fidgety grade schoolers on task in the school's parking lot -- proved not that difficult after all, as students were coached on how to properly wear the glasses. Plus, parents were on hand to be sure the youngest kids kept their glasses on.

The results were well worth the effort.

"We had a great time," Whitney-DeLaMar said. "You could hear the crickets, notice the change in the weather. ... They were able to really see the changes like in nighttime."

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