A fourth-grade student found a quiet spot to watch the eclipse on the playground of Williams Elementary School in Springfield on April 8, 2024. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

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Eclipse glasses fit Emily Austin’s face much better this time.

The last time she wore them, she was 3 years old, and her family had traveled to the path of totality. And “wearing them” is probably not the best phrase.

“They were too big,” Emily said. “My dad had to hold them to my head, and I could see through only one eye.”

Colton Gideon’s preschool glass customized paper plates as holders for their eclipse glasses.
(Photo by Jym Wilson)

Emily, a fifth-grader at Williams Elementary School on Springfield's north side, spent Monday afternoon, April 8, outside with the rest of the student body during the solar eclipse. Cloud cover stayed away from Springfield skies, giving viewers underneath unimpeded views of the astronomical alignment.

Like Williams, many schools across Springfield Public Schools took an eclipse break, letting their students watch outside as the moon's path blocked 97.5 percent of the sun for a few minutes, peaking at 1:54 p.m.

Not quite a recess, students sat with their classes and enjoyed the outdoors. Some classes brought books for reading while waiting. Younger classes wore special, hand-crafted, sun-shaped eclipse glasses they had made earlier.

Kobe Ballard-Howard, 11, a 5th grader at Williams Elementary School in Springfield, watches the eclipse April 8. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Brandy Chandler, a fifth-grade teacher at Williams, said a lot of classes did a lot of different activities and lessons centered around the eclipse. Her students got a lesson about the basics behind the science, then let them get animated about it:

“They have also made a flip book just to show how each progression covers, and how the shadows move,” Chandler said. “So they can see the beginning, the middle and the darkness at the end.”

Williams Elementary School instructors Anna Westra, left, and Kyra Siler captured their eclipse viewing experience with a selfie. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Students said they liked the chance to hang out with their friends. But others had an eye on the skies.

“I don’t think I’ve seen an eclipse before,” said fifth-grader Briley Brooks. “I’m excited to see how the moon going in front of the sun affects the environment.”

Fifth-grader Tanaysia Robinson noticed a change in the weather before the skies darkened.

“I like it out here, because the wind is blowing,” Tanaysia said. “It’s better because earlier it was really hot outside, and now it’s cooling down.”

Students gathered on a playground at Williams Elementary School, 2205 W Kearney St., on April 8, 2024, to observe the solar eclipse. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Serenity Beach, a fifth grader, said she appreciated the chance to make some new memories since the 2017 eclipse.

“I was home, playing on my bike when I was little,” Serenity remembered. “Now I’m out here with my friends.”

Nadia Banks, a kindergarten student at Williams Elementary School was all smiles as she watched the eclipse April 8, 2024 in her “Strong Girls Take on the World” shirt. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

While Springfield reached 97.5% totality, that 2.5% of the sun showing kept our skies from never getting darker than dusk. Through eclipse glasses, students got to see the sun shaped like a fingernail moon, but not the brilliant corona that is visible to people in a total solar eclipse.

Catherine Golden was appropriately attired, and impressed, by the solar eclipse as she watched with her students at Williams Elementary School on April 8, 2024. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Chandler said that she noticed a dip in attendance among her classes, as families took their kids out for road trips.

“I started the day off missing about a fourth of the class, and now we’re missing about half,” Chandler said. “It’s always exciting when parents want to take interest in this sort of thing. I am never mad when parents want to spend time with their kids, especially when it is educational.”

Students gathered on a playground at Williams Elementary School in Springfield April 8, 2024, to observe the solar eclipse. (Photo by Jym Wilson)
Second-grader Taliyah Anderson, 8, customized her eclipse viewing glasses with a class coloring project at Williams Elementary School in Springfield. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Hauxeda. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or jhadsall@hauxeda.com. More by Joe Hadsall