Hewlett-Woodmere checks out eclipse


The Hewlett-Woodmere school district didn’t let the eclipse pass them by.

The April 8, 3 p.m. event was celebrated by all-day activities in Ogden Elementary School during special subjects such as art, gym and music. Hewlett High School students were dismissed to the football field where they watched the historic eclipse happen.

Ogden art teacher Tom Finn led his third and fourth grade students in an eclipse- inspired project. Students who came to the art classroom during their recess period used pastels on black paper to create an eclipse-like piece.

“You basically create a template or a cover and create the atmosphere, or the ombre, which they love to do and then remove the stencil to reveal the image,” Finn said.

Finn allows students to come in daily to work on art projects during recess and will guide themed projects on special occasions. Typically, a dozen to 20 kids stop by during their recess, Finn said. For the eclipse project, they had 20 minutes to make it look as vibrant as they’d like.

“The material, the chalk pastel lends itself to that atmospheric space like lava, it’s dusty, it’s vibrant, bring in some warm tones, and kind of show that intense light,” Finn said.

The focus of the project, Finn said, was to exaggerate the bright edge around the template, to look like the sun.

“With this lesson, it’s not my idea but the reason I chose it, is it’s a perfect example of what happens,” Finn said.

In an Ogden gym class, Rosemarie Ryan the physical education teacher, led students through an eclipse themed warm up, to the Bonnie Tyler song “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

The Ogden music class, taught by Mara Santanastaso, played tambourines to the Schoolhouse Rock song “Interplanet Janet” in honor of the solar event.

While the elementary students went home to watch the eclipse, Hewlett High students, faculty and staff used their glasses distributed by the school to watch from the field.

James Van Casteren, a special education math teacher at the school, said he and his students had talked about the eclipse in class.

“With the age of media and how kids are like, when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have known about this, until I watched the news,” Van Casteren said. “Now, it’s like these kids have it all there, then, I have to go and do my research and read a little bit about it and talk to my classes about the glasses, it happens every so many years, it’s a cool experience.”