Holy Spirit takes students to totality

Teak Phillips | TeakPhillips@archstl.org
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Seventh-grader Milly Patterson taught her fellow students and even her principal a maneuver to get a look at the effect of the eclipse.

Milly interlocked her fingers, a trick her dad taught her, to create an image of the sun — a crescent moon shape as a result of the moon partially blocking it. Earlier, her principal at Holy Spirit School in Maryland Heights, Jill Gould, used a colander to create dozens of crescent shapes.

The Holy Spirit School students took two buses to St. Rose of Lima School in De Soto for the viewing. It was a wise decision, all agreed afterward.

Milly was among the students spellbound by the effects of the eclipse. "I didn't expect it to be quite like that," she said. afterward. "The street lights even turned on."

De Soto was among the areas near the center of the eclipse totality, with two minutes, 41 seconds of darkness. The students and others at St. Rose shouted "Woo, woo" and applauded. A teacher exclaimed, "I can see a star." A sunset appeared behind the church steeple.

St. Rose of Lima School gave its students a choice of staying home, coming to school and staying inside or coming to school and going outside. So many parents wanted to keep their children at home that classes were canceled. Scott Pitts was there anyway with his six children, from ages 5 to 13, all students at St. Rose. He said he wanted the children to see the glory of God's creation.

"He is bigger and more glorious than we will ever be," Pitts said. "This is a small picture of that majesty."

The school's science teacher Ron Taylor was there to help. He saw a partial eclipse in 1979 when he was a student at St. Rose and knew the total eclipse, especially with the solar viewing glasses, would be even better. A member of De Soto's committee welcoming out-of-town guests to view the eclipse, he also helped prepare his students for it, starting last school year. "They'll remember this," he said of the students, agreeing that it may spur some to eventually become scientists.

Taylor called it "another one of God's miracles. I tell the students to watch God's beauty."

Patrick Madigan, science teacher at Holy Spirit School, said "God created a plan and laws to the universe, He blessed us with that. We can predict these. Even though they're farther away, the sun and the moon work out that they're the same size in the sky so this happens."

Gould, the Holy Spirit principal and a native of De Soto, helped students practice properly using the viewing glasses for safety. "We just sought a true, once-in-a-lifetime experience," she said.

St. Rose Parish pastor Father Alex Anderson said as a once-in-a-lifetime event, "it reminds us that each moment is a once-in-a-lifetime event and to make the most of each moment."

Several out-of-towners were at Mass on the weekend and at daily Mass Monday. One couple, parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish in Winnetka, Ill., chose to view the eclipse at St. Rose School. They praised the students' behavior and the kindness of the adults from both St. Rose and Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit eighth-grader Dylan Bolter smiled after looking at the sun through the viewing glasses. "I'm really happy I was able to see it," he said. 

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