Bellevue West prepares for solar eclipse viewing


Melissa Irish

Teacher Erik Johnson presents a powerpoint on the upcoming solar eclipse to his fifth hour medical biology students.

Melissa Irish, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Aug. 21  will not be a regular day.  Starting around 11:38 a.m., the moon will overtake the sun in a solar eclipse.  It will be approximately 375 more years until a solar eclipse will pass so close, so Bellevue West decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

Students will attend their first four classes, skipping over advisory, and then have sixth hour.  At that point, they will get food and watch the height of the eclipse and then have fifth and seventh hour.  Hot dogs and hamburgers grilled by the administrative team will add a cookout element to the viewing picnic.  Principal Kevin Rohlfs has been working on this plan since March, knowing that he did not want to force students to stay inside and miss the event going on in the sky above.

“After those early conversations, it was clear this is a potentially once-in-a-lifetime thing for a lot of us,” Rohlfs said.  “So, we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity for everyone to experience this.”

Not only will the solar eclipse be a unique experience, but it also pertains to the human understanding of our solar system as well, which is something some students have noticed.

“It’s a good educational opportunity and something none of our generation has seen and that a lot of the teachers haven’t seen,” senior Jessica Warak said.

The school recently received protective eyewear for the students and staff while they observe the eclipse.  Since Bellevue West will experience about 98% of the eclipse and so won’t be fully in totality, the glasses cannot be removed.  If they are, the wearer will sustain permanent damage to their eyes.

“We are going  to do constant reminders on the football field about the safety,” Rohlfs said.  “We’re old enough to know better and it’s very clear that you could burn the retinas of your eyes.  I’m hoping our students are smarter than that.”

Another concern is if students will actually care about the eclipse and so make the planning worth it.

“Some will care, some will not,” teacher Erik Johnson said.  “I hope that everyone though doesn’t forget about it.”

Rohlfs hoped that most students will be on the “some will care” side.

“I hope they’re interested,” Rohlfs said.  “I believe a majority of our students will grasp the enormity of what we’re witnessing.”

Luckily for Rohlfs, at least a few students will probably meet his hopes of enjoying the cosmic event.

“I think it’s going to be a really cool experience, and in fifteen or twenty years I’ll be like ‘kids, I got to see an eclipse,’” senior Isaac Clark said.



Period 1- 7:50-8:37
Period 2- 842-9:29
Advisory- Cancelled
Period 3- 9:34-10:21
Period 4- 10:26-11:11
Period 6- 11:16-11:52
Period 6- Science classes will report to lunch at 11:40
11:57- Report to 5th hour classes for dismissal
World Languages, Science, Baumert & Moraksi go directly to lunch
Departments will be called down via intercom
12:07- 2nd lunch dismissed
12:17- 3rd lunch dismissed
12:27- 4th lunch dismissed
1:30- Students return to 5th hour class
Period 5- 1:43-2:28
Period 7- 2:33-3:20