Partial eclipse excites area viewers

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple ABOVE: Bristol third-grader Maddison Pineda, 8, wearing her special outfit for the solar eclipse, looks skyward with her special glasses as the moon passed partially in front of the sun Monday afternoon.

BRISTOL — As several hundred students, teachers and area residents stood on the soccer field outside Bristol Elementary School waiting for the solar eclipse to occur, they felt the temperatures drop slightly and watched the afternoon sun dim.

Shortly after 2:15 p.m. Monday, using special cardboard-framed eclipse glasses, many looked toward the sun. What they saw was not a total eclipse as the moon passed in front of the sun, because Ohio was not one of the states in the prime viewing area. The sun’s sphere went from full to a crescent shape and eventually back to full again.

The youngest students huddled around their teachers listening as they explained exactly what they were seeing.

Third grade teachers Diana Zidian and Jamie Grube showed their students videos of previous eclipses and talked to them about safety.

“The kids are really excited about the eclipse and this being the first day (of school),” Grube said.

Zidian gave them an assignment of writing what they saw and doing drawings.

Many of the older high school seniors talked among themselves, used their camera phones with their eclipse glasses to see if they could snap some photos.

Other older residents brought lawn chairs and snacks and made an event of the celestial occurrence.

“Doing this was a good way to begin the school year,” Bristol High School Principal Tim Fairfield said. “The kids were able to learn a little science and get a break during the day.”

Darren Kimak, who has two children in the school district, said he was especially pleased the eclipse happened on the first day of school.

“How often will these students get to see science as it is happening in real time?” Kimak said.

Between the 1,000 eclipse glasses obtained by D’Lynn Johnson of the Bristolville Public Library from Science Technologies Activities & Resources, also known as, and another 400 glasses obtained from Youngstown State University, anyone in the area who wanted a pair of glasses was able to get them.

“For parents who did not want their children using these glasses, we had a room where they could be in while this is happening,” Fairfield said.

Rebecca Dobson, a high school science teacher, said they used the classroom hours before the eclipse to clear up misunderstandings people — not just students — had about planets.

“I had someone call me to ask if we could change the time so they could see the eclipse,” she said.

Dobson said the teachers used a part of their time to emphasize the need for their students to be safe,” he said.

Students Seth Beshara, Justin Willis and Lindsay Miller, all 15 and each in the 10th grade, each admitted their knowledge of solar eclipses were that the moon was pass between the the earth and the moon.

“I’m looking forward to this,” Miller said.

Anna Pleso, 17, a senior, called what turned out to be a partial eclipse “pretty cool.”

Lauren Rager, 17, also a senior, said she wonders what happens to animals during total eclipses.

“This met my expectations for what it was going to be like,” she said. “It seemed like a bight moon.”

Lamarr and Bonnie Sheldon, both in their mid-70s, sat on lawn chairs watching both the eclipse and the reactions of the school children surrounding them.

“I might have seen a partial eclipse when I was a kid,” Sheldon said. “We thought it would be something special to see.”