Students & Teachers from Sacred Heart Academy Travel to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Solar Eclipse

Published on
SHA Eclipse

Thanks to an anonymous donor, Sacred Heart Academy chartered a bus to take 27 of its high school students and 15 of its eighth grade students (plus chaperones and staff!) to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to view the highly anticipated solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

Why did they make the journey? In short, to see and experience the beauty of a total (100%) solar eclipse. “I mean, this is part of our educational philosophy — when you have that experience for yourself. You don’t lose that because now it’s yours. You’ve had it. It’s not just an idea — it’s reality,” Sacred Heart Academy's Headmaster, Sean Nolan said.

The total solar eclipse (when the moon completely eclipsed the sun and casted the umbral shadow) was seen between 3:06 pm and 3:10 pm in Indianapolis and the duration lasted just over 3 minutes. The location was one of 6 major cities in the U.S. in the path of totality. "It is difficult to be shocked or awed anymore now that countless videos of 'once-in-a-lifetime' experiences are available at a moment’s notice. But even after prepping my students and watching videos of the 2017 eclipse with them, all of our mouths were wide open and eyes glued to the sky at the moment of totality," said Patrick Mitchell, Upper School Math Coordinator. "There is something indescribable in the really real that no video can capture—something that we all intuitively felt while we watched the total eclipse. As Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, 'The world is charged with the grandeur of God.' No one is in doubt of that after yesterday."

Each of the science classes (grades 8-12) have had a class entirely dedicated to the astronomy, mechanics, heat transfer/fluid mechanics, animal behavior, discoveries, and human experiential viewing of eclipses. “In my Physical Science and Astronomy class in particular, we had a whole chapter leading up to this about the life cycle of stars, the formation of the solar system, theories of how the moon came to be in orbit around the earth, along with an introduction to the planets, their size, and other fun facts,” says Household Dean and Upper School Science Teacher, Eric Plaehn.

Back at home in Grand Rapids, the remaining students and staff lined up outside in the school’s greenspace to watch the peak of the eclipse at approximately 3:11pm (approximately 93 or 94% at peak in Grand Rapids). The part-time Classical Enrichment Course (CEC) students in grades 1-4, who usually only attended classes on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays, made a special trip to school to join their counterparts in the full-time program for the afternoon "viewing party." To ensure the whole school community could safely enjoy this remarkable phenomenon, Sacred Heart Academy invested in eclipse glasses for all students and staff.

To see this story covered by FOX17, click here

To see video coverage by WZZM, click here

To see more photos of our Catholic school students enjoying the moment, click through our Flickr album