HOLLADAY — As first days of school go, Monday at Crestview Elementary School rocked — an eclipse viewing party followed by an all-school picnic.
"I feel sorry for those 50 kids who were absent today," Principal Teri Cooper said. "They missed something awesome."
The school provided eclipse glasses to some 600 students, faculty and staff along with explicit instruction not to look at the sun without them.
"I knew our teachers would take care of it," Cooper said.
"I'm just excited. I thought, 'What better way to watch the eclipse than with 600 little kids and seeing their excitement and their joy.' It's making me love it even more."
While the event was a fun way to ease into the school year, Stephanie Varoz's sixth-grade class was hard at work throughout the morning.
"We've done a lot of experiments about how can a tiny little moon block out the whole sun. So we've looked at the mathematics of it," Varoz said. "We're recording observations throughout the day so we can figure out which way the moon moves around the Earth. We're just having fun with it."
After the picnic, the sixth-graders were scheduled to return to the classroom and do some eclipse-inspired art projects.
"It's just a wonderful way to start sixth grade," Varoz said.
Carolyn Mulvaney, who teaches third grade, said the viewing event and picnic were a little stressful because she's still getting to get to know her students.
"But it's fun," she said. "It's a great exciting event. It's a fun way to get to know them."
While most students said the event was fun, others were equally impressed when a drone buzzed over the school's playfield.
And an oft-heard question from the students, mostly boys, was, "When can we eat?"
But others, such as third-grader Harry O'Neil, relished the moment.
"I'm very excited. I'm really excited because I've never actually seen the solar eclipse. It makes it look really cool in these glasses," he said.
Aspen Holje described the viewing party as "a super cool event."
"I've only seen pictures, and my parents have only seen pictures. Exactly a week ago, my grandparents took me to Clark Planetarium with my siblings and we saw how it would be, and it's just a really cool experience," said Aspen, 8.
"The fact that I'm so young and able to see it is also so amazing."