Eclipse Shines Light on St. Benedict’s

SBP students gather on Leahy Field wearing safety glasses to take in a rare solar eclipse

A plethora of people from the SBP community gathered on the Leahy house field on Monday Aug. 21 to view a rare, coast-to-coast solar eclipse. Hundreds of people – students, faculty and staff, alumni, and parents — came because of the rarity of the event, the food offered, the surreal atmosphere evoked by the eclipse, and the curiosity it aroused within them.

At the scene, some gazed at the sky through specially modified glasses, some gathered in groups to chat, others lined up for food, and the rest relaxed under the canopy of an oversized tent, left up from Monkfest the previous weekend. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Lucas Guillen, a UD1 at St Benedict’s. “ It’s something that I couldn’t miss, simply because it’s so rare.”

This was the first time a solar eclipse took place over the contiguous United States in 38 years, according to NASA.  On average, there are no less than 2 and no more than 5 solar eclipses every year. The view of the eclipse was different depending on the location. In some spots the the moon fully covered the sun, a phenomenon known as totality, which caused complete darkness. In others there wasn’t full blockage.  In New York, which has the same time zone as Newark, there was 71%  blockage of the sun but there was still enough to make it visible.

Most totalities last about 7 to 8 minutes. Some people who were not completely informed on how the eclipse was going to unfold in Newark were disappointed. Senior Tyler Raymond said, “The eclipse was honestly disappointing. In shows that I have seen the sun was black with a small ring of light around it with the sky being  completely  black.” Others really didn’t see the uniqueness of the event. “It looked more like the moon than the sun.”, said MD Savion Julien.

It took weeks of preparation for the event to come out as it did. The Science Department, which includes Dr. Dennis Lansang, Mrs. Michelle Tuorto , and Mr. Richard Molina, had taken measures to make sure the event was executed. They ordered 150 special glasses for the participants to view the passing of the moon over the sun. Approximately double that amount of people came out, according to Mrs Tuorto. An additional step taken to help carry out the event was to raise awareness. Dr. Lansang placed messages about the eclipse on the telescreens and made announcements in convocation. A week before the event Dr Lansang said, “The eclipse will get people interested in looking at the sky because we don’t look at the Earth’s beauty enough.¨

SBP’ers enjoy the heavenly view

There was an enticing scent of burgers and hot dogs being cooked and scores of people all around the H.A.B field viewing the solar eclipse with the glasses provided by the science department. As an additional perk, Mr. Lopina, the director of technology at St. Benedict’s, made a pinhole device, allowing many of the students who were unable to get glasses to still witness this moment in history. Other people lingered, enjoying the company of their friends. Despite differing reasons for showing up, people came and spent time together. “As I walk around, I see family and friends all having fun with drinks and I could tell this is a happy community,” said Greg Anthony Jones, a UD1 at St Benedict’s.

People from outside of the U.S were also interested in the circumstances of this natural phenomenon. Zaba Bangala, a transfer here at SBP from Sweden who is here on a basketball scholarship, had family back home who were interested in how the eclipse was over in America. In his case, he felt that he was lucky to be in America at this particular time to witness this event. According to him, his family was a little upset that they couldn’t see the eclipse, but were happy on his behalf. Despite that, they were excited to know that there will be an eclipse in Sweden next summer and he will be present with them.

There was also an evident sense of joy at the event.  “I’ve always wanted to see a solar eclipse, even though it was 70 percent coverage it was an amazing experience” Science Teacher Molina said. “What enhanced the experience was seeing all of you guys around this astronomical event and enjoying it just  as I enjoyed it.”