At Norwood Park it didn’t matter that, of all of Lincoln's 57 public schools, students at the northeast Lincoln elementary had the shortest window to see the once-in-a-lifetime eclipse in totality.

That's because the smallest LPS school knows how to go big and they did that Monday, with a giant yellow banner proclaiming the day “Totality Amazing!” and The Beatles and Cat Stevens crooning over loudspeakers about the sun coming and moon shadows.

Like all LPS schools -- and those across the state -- the event was the subject of lessons and discussions and a chance to see the real thing on Monday, the state's educators taking advantage of science in real-time.

James Blake, LPS science curriculum specialist, spent months pulling everything together and, thanks to his spreadsheets, each school knew just how long their students could view the eclipse’s totality phase without glasses.

Principal Pam Hale said the 31 seconds they got at Norwood Park -- as opposed to more than a minute at schools on the south side of town -- didn’t matter. And anyway, they’re used to small. They do it well.

“Honestly, it’s just a miracle we’re sitting in a place this is going on,” she said.

Before Monday's eclipse, their 270-some students ate sack lunches with a live feed of the event unfolding in other parts of the country.

In Kellie Iburg’s third-grade class they made construction paper suns with its rays glued on and the dark shadow of the moon attached and movable -- away from the sun and right across it.

One student noticed that every time he walked in front of the projector he eclipsed it, and that teachable moment led to the real thing, as they headed to the open field on the side of the school, right next to Sunrise Park.

Norwood Park students followed protocols set by Blake: looking down while they walked outside, turning away from the sun to take their glasses on and off.

When totality approached, teachers turned the speakers off and encouraged students to listen and look and feel as the temperature dropped, the cicadas began to sing and the street lights came on.

Then the students took off the glasses and looked skyward, at the bright ring around a darkened sun.

Students deemed the eclipse “awesome” and “gooooood” and, as fourth-grader Willow Soprito opined: "it was awesomely amazing, amazingly cool.”

-- Margaret Reist

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or

On Twitter @LJSreist.


Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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