The Catholic Commentator  

St. Theresa School art teacher Pamela Gyan loves the moon. As a child, her mother woke her up “for every (space flight) lift off and every splash down.”  

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Students at St. Theresa School in Gonzales look in awe at the solar eclipse Aug. 21.  Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator 

 

“My nickname when I was young was ‘Moonbeam.’ So I just love the moon. I love space period – just all space,” said Gyan, with tears in her eyes.  

That is why she incorporated the solar eclipse into art projects at the Gonzales school. The Aug. 21 event was the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse since 1918. The 70-mile-wide path of totality stretched from Oregon through South Carolina, transforming day into night for two minutes at a time. For Gyan, news that south Louisiana would have a glimpse at a partial eclipse was enough to inspire her artistic eye. She logged onto NASA’s website to download lesson plans and ideas for artwork, including viewing boxes.  “We always want (students) to be safe and I’ve been showing them how you can construct the box so that you can project it through the pinhole into the inside of the box and safely view the eclipse,” she said.  

“I think it’s really cool how they’re building them (viewing boxes) and how it can work,” said eighth-grader Ellen Adcox.  

For the younger students, Gyan used black construction paper and white chalk to recreate the sun’s corona, the fiery crown of the sun, during totality. Students were going to view the eclipse through eclipse glasses, viewing boxes and through a cutout in the shape of the state of Louisiana to highlight the shadows. Gyan said she doesn’t think the students had grasped the importance of the historic event.  

“I think they will once they see it because it’s so cool,” she said. “I remember I was probably 16 and I was at Oak Alley (Plantation) and an eclipse happened, and I don’t think it was a full eclipse, but I knew not to look at the sun so I looked down at the ground and through the shadows of the oak trees all these tiny crescent shapes showed up and that is the eclipse of the moon and the NASA site even shows that.”  Just before viewing time, hundreds of students gathered in the gym where a large screen played a live stream of

NASA’s eclipse coverage. Fourth-grade teacher Beth Sinanan ordered NASA approved glasses, but because of the demand across the country, she only received half of her order.  

“I ordered 100, but they only sent 50,” she said. “So, I ordered some more and they turned out to be fakes.”  

“And, that’s fine,” Gyan quickly added, “because we can only watch 50 kids at a time to be careful.”  

Students lined up in groups of 50 and carefully walked out of the gym into the parking lot. Most kept their eyes down while others looked straight ahead, each one carrying a pair of safety glasses. When Sinanan gave the order to put on the glasses and look up, the children raised their heads as one and immediately sounds of surprise and joy echoed throughout the school campus.  

“Wow!” “Cool!” “Ooh!” and “”Aah!” came from the students, astounded by the event. Seconds later, Sinanan told the students to look down and immediately all heads were bowed. Then she let them have one more look.  

“Put on your glasses and look up!” came the instructions and once again, the students responded in awe.  

After their turn, the students moved forward in line to allow the next group of 50 to experience the eclipse. And, as they walked back inside, you could hear them saying, “Wow!” “That was so neat!”  

For just a few seconds, they were able to experience something that created a memory of a lifetime.