OMMS students gather to view eclipse

NORTH SHELBY – The total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, brought together Oak Mountain Middle School students for a celestial phenomenon not seen in the area since 1979.

An eclipse viewing event was held on the school’s football field, with students donning special safety glasses and having the opportunity to purchase snacks, drinks and Kona Ice.

School Principal Larry Haynes said the school received many requests from parents for their children to be able to view the eclipse.

“Our science teachers had already recognized this to be a special event and had even learned about it during professional development,” Haynes said. “It ties in directly in our earth/space curriculum in sixth grade, but they’ve been talking about it in all of the classes.”

Science teacher Kristi Turner offered thoughts during the event, telling students over a public address system that the eclipse they were witnessing covered about 93 percent of the sun and noting the hazy conditions and drop in temperature.

“That 7 percent is still pretty strong, as you can see,” Turner said.

Permission forms were sent home with students beforehand for participation in the viewing.

For students who did not bring back a signed form, or whose parents opted for them to not participate in the outdoor viewing, NASA’s stream of the eclipse was shown in the school’s media center.

Several students were checked out of school to view the eclipse with their parents along the “path of totality,” Haynes said.

The OMMS science teachers requested the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization purchase safety glasses for the students, and the PTO also offered snacks and drinks.

PTO President Allison Sinclair said the organization placed an order for 1,200 safety glasses at a price of about 5 cents each.

When the shipment arrived, they noticed they had actually been sent twice the requested amount. So, the glasses were sold to parents in the school’s carpool line for $2 each as a fundraiser for the PTO.

“It made an extra $2,000 for our school,” Sinclair said.