A Wholehearted Partial Eclipse at Fire Island School

FIUFSD Superintendent Travis Davey instructing the children on safe viewing practices prior to the partial eclipse.

The educational opportunity was not missed by Fire Island School District (FIUFSD), who arranged an “eclipse club,” weeks in advance of the predicted celestial event, in which students, staff and parents alike were invited to say past dismissal time to witness it together.


While not falling within the range of totality, Long Islanders a chance to view a righteous partial solar eclipse on April 8, 2024 with 88% maximum coverage. Reports of eclipse glasses running low in stock on parts of Long Island brought up concern, but there was sufficient supply available for the needs of Woodhull Elementary, which presently boasts a robust 50 or so children pre-K through 6th grade. Many of the younger students outfitted their glasses with ornate headdresses made with paper plates and colorfully decorated with crayons.


Before venturing out, FIUFSD Superintendent Travis Davey assembled the children in the gymnasium where they sat casually on floormates as he explained the importance of wearing the special eyewear while looking at the sky and to be aware of all that what was happening around them while in the moment.


“Listen for the birds,” said Davey. “It is said birds will grow silent when the eclipse is happening, also that the air will get cooler. I don’t know if these things are true, let’s find out.”


He then explained the itinerary in which the group would head due south to the beach about half a block away and stay for the duration of the viewing, then head back to the school afterwards where the busses would be waiting to take them home. However, minutes later, as the procession started out the cafeteria door, there was an abrupt change in plans.


“It’s already happening,” said 5th & 6th grade teacher Gabrielle Donovan and suddenly there was an impromptu shift to take in the viewing right on the playground. While staff were also enjoying the amazing sight, they kept a watchful eye on the children to make sure they heeded

A cellphone view of the partial eclipse in progress taken by FIUFSD school bus driver Herb Terry.

safe viewing instructions.


During the hour on the ball court people got creative too. The glasses were great, but bus driver Dale Benton took out a good old fashioned cereal box viewfinder. She then produced a pasta strainer while adults and children alike surrounded with interest her as she produced crescent-shaped shadows with it.


The temperature did indeed get a few degrees cooler and breezy on the playground ball court, and this editor was kind of glad we didn’t hoof it to the beach after all. However, Mr. Davey was less than correct about the birds going quiet – there was some animated chirping going on, but their songs were slightly different, slower-paced and slightly mournful.


Before everyone knew it, it was time to load up the busses and head home. While not all viral events live up to the hype these days, this one most certainly did and what a time we all had sharing it with one another.

Eclipse Club 2024 is a wrap! For more photos of the day , visit our Facebook page.