Red Bank Elementary students view rare Solar Eclipse

Kindergarteners wearing their special solar eclipse headbands. (Photo by Samantha Golden, Clovis Roundup)

April 9, 2024 – The students at Red Bank Elementary School were treated to a solar eclipse and moon pies, at a special outdoors event on Monday morning.

Children sat on the grass and viewed the rare event through special glasses, provided to them by their school.

Red Bank Elementary dubbed it “Shine Bright” dress-up day, encouraging the kids to wear their brightest clothing.

“We always like to get our kiddos involved,” says Principal Amanda Torres, “ and sometimes you find, in the educational setting, students don’t really get as involved or as excited with something if they don’t understand it.”

Each grade level was given extra materials to learn about the solar system, moon phases, and eclipses in particular, in preparation for the viewing event.

In addition to scientific education, teachers were prepared to give a thematic life lesson using the eclipse event.

“Every day is your time to shine bright,” said Principal Torres,”even when darkness is covering your path, you still shine bright behind it all.”

Kindergarteners did hands-on activities to understand the phases of the moon. Some of them even wore special headbands that they colored in themselves.

“They were actually really interested,” says Kindergarten teacher Audrey Lebda, “we started introducing it last Thursday, and we watched a video on it, and they were asking, ‘Can we watch another one?’ so we found a song about [the eclipse] and we read a story called ‘A Few Beautiful Minutes’.”

Former aerospace engineer David Mcgee visited for the event, to share some key details about the eclipse with the children as well as encourage them to reach for their dreams.

“How many of you want to grow up to be astronauts?” McGee asked the assembled students ,”I’ll let you know, it’s possible. When I was your age, I lived in Kansas and was like a farm kid. I never imagined I would spend 40 years working on rockets and putting satellites in space.”

“I think it’s important for them to see that the world we live in is small, and there’s actually a whole universe out there,” says McGee, “To me, education is always important. It gives you the power to do the things you want to do in life.”

McGee passed along that love for education to his own children, who are now teachers at Clovis Unified high schools.

This was a partial solar eclipse, with about 40% of the sun covered in our area. The next solar eclipse visible from our area will be a total eclipse, 21 years from now, on August 18th, 2045.