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Vandegrift Voice

The online student newspaper of Vandegrift High School

Vandegrift Voice

The online student newspaper of Vandegrift High School

Vandegrift Voice

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Archives

Shadowing schedules: Balancing celestial wonders and academic scheduling

Illustration+by+Audrey+Dale+
Illustration by Audrey Dale

A total eclipse, a major astronomical event, will occur on April 8. While many are traveling to catch a view of the spectacular solar scene, many students still find themselves sitting in a classroom. However, altered schedules and opt-out forms have been sent out due to this once in a lifetime celestial opportunity. Students that plan on staying will get to experience the eclipse with peers and have the chance to observe the school’s planned activities for that day. 

“Even though the full eclipse is only about three minutes, there’s a whole bunch going on in the phases to get to that point, so it gives students the opportunity to see the full phase of it which I think is an educational experience,” Associate Principal Amanda Toon said. 

Despite many questioning on why the school remains open during eclipse day, it is not up to the school to make the decision. Rather, it is the district that makes the final call. 

“The school doesn’t have any say in whether we close down or stay open, that’s the district’s decision. What the school has an option to do is alter our schedule,” Toon said. “We created a schedule that was going to allow students, if they were still here, to have that opportunity [to view] the main portion of the eclipse.” 

Despite the district’s conclusion on keeping schools running during the major event, many parents have decided to opt their students out in order to watch the eclipse with family, rather than peers. This circumstance has allowed the school to create an opt-out form and allow students to have excused absences for that day.

“What we have done is try to work out if families have made other plans for this event [so that] it’s not going to hurt the student’s absences.”

Making an altered schedule, which includes all the appropriate class lengths as well as additional lunch and PIT times, can come with struggle. With adding the additional eclipse assembly to the school day, class time had to be cut down as well as periods being rearranged. 

“PIT is fluid, so we can make PIT shorter or longer, or take PIT out completely if we need to. Lunch has to be 30 minutes, we have to make sure we’re building those in,” Toon said. “We have to worry about our official attendance taking time. You’ll see on the eclipse schedule it goes first period, third period, second period. The reason is our attendance taking period has to be second period and it has to be at 10:25 AM.”

The eclipse assembly will be towards the end of the school day and will be an hour long, and the main portion of the eclipse is approximately three minutes. This leaves a great amount of time for students to settle in and enjoy the company with one another, as well as appreciate the assembly which has been crafted by the school. However, the process of ushering students in and out of the stadium also had an effect on the duration of the assembly. 

“We have a school of over 2,500 students. To get all of the students out of the classroom and into the stadium and seated is going to take a long time. We wanted to make sure we had enough time on the front end and the back end to get them out of the stadium, so that nobody misses this opportunity,” Toon said. 

Altering schedules can be a very tedious process with many puzzle pieces to work through in order for the school day to run smoothly. The total eclipse happening April 8th will be a historic event that many students will have the chance to see with friends and family, and the school has made an effort to make this experience special. Students can find the altered schedule on the school’s official website as well as in ViperByte Remind messages. 

“It’s really about the experience,” Toon said.



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About the Contributor
Renee Crotty, Staff Reporter
Renee Crotty is a junior and is thrilled to be in her first year of the Voice. Outside of school she enjoys music, hanging out with family and friends and going out on the weekends.

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