Eclipse will be a learning experience

Venango County is on the edge of the path of totality during Monday afternoon’s solar eclipse, meaning residents will be able to view the moon eclipse about 99% of the sun.

The extreme northern portion of the county, including Drake Well Museum & Park in Cherrytree Township just outside of Titusville, and Chapmanville will be in the path of totality.

All of Crawford and Erie counties, as well as the northern parts of Mercer and Warren counties, will be in the same path.

Locally, various school districts have taken their respective educational approaches to the eclipse.

Oil City

Oil City Area High School Principal Craig Kasunic said the school district is taking a “very educational” approach to the eclipse.

Students in the astronomy, earth and space and physics classes on Monday will attend a program at Penn State Behrend, in Erie, where they will be able to view the total eclipse.

Students will be dismissed at their regular times, so high school and middle school students will be out of school by the time the eclipse peaks in Oil City at about 3:18 p.m.

Elementary school students will still be in school when the eclipse peaks and will be able to view it, with parental permission, Kasunic said, and that there are enough eclipse glasses for each student.

Leading up to the eclipse, he said, materials to teach about all things solar eclipse have been distributed to teachers at all the schools.

Middle school students have gone to the high school planetarium to learn about and watch a solar eclipse, Kasunic said. The plan is for the elementary students to also go to the planetarium to learn about eclipses either before or shortly after the eclipse.


Students in the Franklin Area School District will be dismissed three hours early on Monday, according to Superintendent Eugene Thomas.

The high school will be dismissed at 11:37 a.m. and the elementary schools will be dismissed at 11:45 a.m. so that students will be out of school before the eclipse and any traffic concerns due to the cosmic event.

“We want to make sure the students are in a safe place at home and hopefully able to share this remarkable experience with their families,” Thomas said.

The schools in the district are all taking different educational initiatives before and after the eclipse, he said, to take advantage of the “once-in-a generation” teaching moment.

Sandycreek Elementary School Principal Joseph Keenan said the school’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher, as well as all classroom teachers, will give lessons in their classes.

In addition, the Central Elementary School STEM classes have been doing activities for the last two weeks, according to Principal Gary Canfora, including a safety lesson about eclipse viewing and how to make pinhole viewers.

At Victory Elementary School, students also have been doing a number of hands-on eclipse educational activities and creating models, Principal John Bianconi said, and all students will receive eclipse glasses from the Parent Teacher Organization.


The Cranberry Area School District will dismiss students at their regular time on Monday with “no changes to the regularly scheduled instructional day,” according to the school messenger message sent to families.

“We will provide glasses to all elementary students. Likewise, this event presents a unique educational opportunity for our students,” the message said. “Teachers, those of the sciences particularly, are encouraged to take advantage of the uniqueness of this event through educational activities and discussions with their students.”

Any early dismissals or absences related to the eclipse will be considered excused on Monday, provided parents reference the event when notifying the school on the written excuse, the school district said.

Valley Grove

The Valley Grove School District will dismiss students three hours earlier than their regular time, according to the district’s Facebook page. Rocky Grove High School will dismiss at 11:34 a.m.; Valley Grove Elementary School will dismiss at noon.

High school physics and chemistry teacher Jason Beary said outside activities and field trips in regard to the cosmic event weren’t planned due to weather in early April being “too capricious,” but he will give a brief demonstration in his classroom on Monday “as to how solar and lunar eclipses are a ‘thing’ on our home planet, how the sun and the moon are visually the same size in the sky. That we can count on. Clear skies, we can’t.”

Marjorie Hart, the high school’s family and consumer science teacher, said her students will make an eclipse food menu on Monday. The menus will include food that might be served at a party with that theme.

Private schools

Students at St. Stephen Elementary and Venango Catholic High schools will learn remotely Monday, Venango Region Catholic School Principal Katherine Chandley said, which will give students flexibility to watch the eclipse with their families or to travel that day.

The school has purchased eclipse glasses for each student and will be sending those home with them, Chandley said.

Christian Life Academy will dismiss students at 11:45 a.m. Monday.

Staff writers Helen Fielding and Makayla Keating also contributed to this report.