Published On: Thu, Aug 31st, 2017

LCC students get a once-in-a-lifetime look

KEARNEY — The buzz last week was all about the solar eclipse.
People asking others “Did you watch the solar eclipse?” followed by “Where were you watching the eclipse?”
For a group of LCC juniors and seniors, they will forever have the memory of being able to travel to Kearney to view the Aug. 21 total eclipse of the sun.

Several Laurel-Concord-Coleridge students traveled to Kearney last week to get a better view of the solor eclipse. Those attending included: (back row) Ryan Bathke, Noah Stone, Justin Kinkaid, Michael Kurtzhals, Karsen Klooz, Cody Babl, Ethan Williams, (center row) Evan Urwiler, Hunter Pehrson, Izac Reifenrath, Sydney Chapman, Maddie Swanson, Madisyn Hall, Kaylee Swanson, (front row) Trent Lubberstedt, Katelyn Steffen, Sydney Pehrson, Cassandra Tchu, Aaliyah Kolar, and Bethany Kardell.

High school science teacher Kim McCorkindale knew she wanted to make sure her students got to experience this once in a lifetime event. When she heard the University of Nebraska-Kearney was planning a “Great American Watch Party,” McCorkindale knew she wanted her students to participate.
What made this field trip so special was Kearney was along the path of “totality” during the solar eclipse. This meant people in this area would experience the moon covering the sun for almost two minutes.
Laurel being north of the path experienced about 95 percent coverage.
McCorkindale knew just how rare this eclipse was and wanted her students to experience it, especially with it being so close to home.
McCorkindale said UNK had been planning for over two years to host a “Great American Watch Party.” She was in contact with the university for over a year to reserve and plan the trip. The students used classroom time to make sure they knew the path of the solar eclipse. They had it down to the second when the moment of totality would hit Kearney.
The group consisted of 20 LCC juniors and seniors. The LCC group left at 6  a.m. to make the trek south. They arrived at the UNK campus around 9:40 a.m., joining  about 3,000 other high schoolers to view the eclipse in the UNK football stadium.
Prior to the “Great American Watch Party,” students were given a tour of the UNK campus. The university had several activities set up on the football field to help entertain the students.
Maddie Swanson said prior to the event the university had bounce houses, bingo, laser tag, and other activities before and after the eclipse.
She was also impressed by a countdown clock the university had set up so everyone in the stadium knew when the total eclipse would be happening.
Madyson Hall was impressed at the timing of everything.
“It was cool the countdown clock was exactly right, it hit zero as the sun was covered,” she said.
McCorkindale described the energy level in the stadium as, “very high all day, everyone was very excited for the solar eclipse.”
McCorkindale said the day was ideal for eclipse viewing.
“Perfect, couldn’t have asked for a better day.  It was a little warm but there was no cloud coverage,” she said.
Many of the students said during the moments of total coverage there was a temperature drop.
McCorkindale’s very detailed explanation of the moments of totality helped create a vivid picture in the listener’s mind.
She described the horizon as a “360 degree sunset.” During these moments of totality, the viewers were able to take off their glasses and view the eclipse.
It was a moment that brought everyone together.
“After the total eclipse the university played the song “Sweet Caroline” and the whole stadium started to sing along,” Swanson said.
Several of the other students said they would always remember seeing the “diamond ring effect.”
“The best part was seeing the diamond ring effect,” Michael Kurtzhals said. “I would definitely go again if I ever had the opportunity.”
The diamond ring effect is when the last few bursts of sunshine come through, and the sunlight appears as a little “bead” on one edge of the eclipse.
Each student will forever have a memory of the Aug. 21, 2017 solar eclipse.