BAMBERG -- Students in Bamberg School District One will be learning firsthand about the total solar eclipse that will take place in August.
Trustees during the May board meeting listened to lesson plans created by district science teachers and approved Superintendent Phyllis Schwarting’s request to hold classes during the Aug. 21 event.
Student safety during the eclipse has been a concern, but Schwarting has said throughout the decision-making process that she feels it will be much safer for students to observe the eclipse under supervision at school. Many of them will be at home alone if they aren’t in school, she said.
Teachers Bobbi Bunch of Richard Carroll Elementary and Bridget Kinard of Bamberg-Ehrhardt High urged the board to approve holding classes during the eclipse.
Bunch said the total solar eclipse is a seldom-seen event that offers an amazing teaching opportunity. The last full eclipse in the area was in the 1970s, she said. The next total eclipse will come in 2024, but won’t be visible anywhere near South Carolina, Bunch added.
All teachers and every subject from science to English language arts to history, art and math will be involved in the program to study the eclipse, she said.
Teachers have already been given background information so they’ll have time to prepare for the classes in August. The kids have also been involved in preparing for the eclipse.
Bunch noted that safety glasses have been provided for the entire district and teachers will be well-trained on how to use them.
Teachers will be with the kids every minute of the experience, which will last around an hour, she said. Students will be told when to put the glasses on and when they can take them off, Bunch said. There will be a very short period of about a minute and a half when the moon completely covers the sun. At that moment, they’ll be able to observe the phenomena without the glasses.
Parents will have to give written permission for their children to take part in observing the solar eclipse.
Schwarting noted earlier that the school day on Aug. 21 will be slightly longer than usual so that students will be able to better observe the eclipse, which will reach its maximum point at 2:43 p.m.
Also during the meeting, the board elected Chris Wallace to serve as board chair, Janeth Walker as vice chair and Tony Duncan as secretary.
In other business, John Hiers and Julia R. “Kim” Berry, who were recently sworn in as trustees, were recognized at the May meeting. Berry defeated incumbent Kedra Rivers for Seat 3, and Hiers was re-elected to Seat 4 in April.
Trustees gave first reading approval of two policies by voice vote with no dissensions. Policy KF changes the current policy about community use of school facilities to allow groups to rent the gym for $300 and the stadium for $500/$1,000.
The decision follows a request by local churches of all faiths and races to rent the facilities for a Rick Gage Go Tell meeting Oct. 15-18, Schwarting said. She reported that this date will not interfere with any planned school activities.
Trustees also approved Policy ADF, which sets health and wellness goals for the district.
Additionally, the board approved out-of-state trips for the B-E wrestling team to attend camp in Chattanooga, Tennessee June 11-15 and the Future Business Leaders of America chapter to attend a convention in Anaheim, California June 28-July 22.
Both groups are paying for the events themselves.
Schwarting recognized Kersey Nguyen, a Bamberg-Ehrhardt High senior who is one of 722 semi-finalists in the Presidential Scholars program.
The superintendent also reported that former state legislator Bakari Sellers recently donated $5,000 to help pay for teacher supplies.