Stunning Display in the Sky

The solar eclipse turns head in Fauquier County .

The Kettle Run Yearbook
Two students watch the sky waiting for the clouds to pass so they can witness the eclipse.

     The dismissal bell rang, but no one left.

    On Monday, Aug. 21, Fauquier County Public Schools held students 15 minutes later than normal after school to keep them safe from viewing the solar eclipse without protective eyewear.

    All students were required to sign a waiver form stating the rules and guidelines to abide by when viewing the eclipse meant to ensure that all students would be able to safely look at the eclipse. The Fauquier County Public Library donated thousands of the special glasses required to safely stare at the sun, but they were later recalled because they were not “certified” for use. Superintendent David Jeck gave some insight on the glasses dilemma.

    “By the time the glasses were determined to be unsafe, it was too late to buy new glasses,” said Jeck. “Every school principal was required to develop a plan whereby there was no risk of injury. This was accomplished primarily by streaming the eclipse via the Internet.”

    Select few teachers were allowed to take their students outside to see the astronomical phenomenon, but the students who were able to view it were ecstatic. Senior Sarah Mitchell was one of those lucky students allowed to witness the eclipse.

    “My favorite part about the solar eclipse was being able to actually see an eclipse in real life for the first time ,” said Mitchell. “Even though it was cloudy, I could still make out the partial eclipse. Being able to look at it was unbelieveable.”

    The 14 states in the path of totality included Oregon, Kansas, Missouri, and South Carolina. 30 travel students from Mountain Vista Governor’s School trekked all the way to Knoxville, TN to experience the eclipse in totality firsthand. After leaving Lord Fairfax Community College at 8 a.m., the students spent the night in a church and woke up the next day ready to be amazed. The show in the sky did just that for senior Gracie Crater.

    “The sky was as dark as night, but it was only 2:30 in the afternoon,” said Crater. “Since we were in the path of totality, we were able to take our special glasses off and stare right at the eclipse happening.”

    Based off of what Crater described the event as, one could imagine the eclipse as being in some sort of a fantasy world.

    “There were shadows rippling across the ground and on our blankets,” said Crater. “Nature went absolutely quiet. There were no birds or cicadas, and there was a sunset, but it was a 360 degree sunset that circled all the way around us. It was the most amazing thing my eyes have ever seen.”

    Solar eclipses occur one to two times every year. However, they may not always be visible in the U.S. The next visible solar eclipse will be Oct. 14, 2023, but the next total solar eclipse will be Apr. 8, 2024. Until then, we will only be able to see a solar eclipse by traveling to the part of the world in which it will be visible.

    Unfortunately, not everyone was able to experience the eclipse, but that did not stop some people from just having a good time being outdoors. In Fauquier County, the partial solar eclipse was just enough for those who simply wanted to see anything out of the ordinary. Luckily, we will have a chance to see the 2024 total solar eclipse here on the east coast. Despite the pause in eclipses until 2023, Crater is willing to wait.

    “Overall, I had an amazing experience,” said Crater. “It was an awesome opportunity to witness something so rare and incredible! The one thing that contributed to the experience was definitely being around people who truly appreciated what they were seeing. Although our phone cameras couldn’t capture the immensity of how beautiful the eclipse was, it is something we will remember for years to come.”