Ben Milam students search cloudy skies for solar eclipse

Gryphon Smith, 9, shows off his illustration of a solar eclipse. (Travis M. Whitehead | Valley Morning Star)
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HARLINGEN — The gray of the clouds and the moisture in the air failed to diminish the enthusiasm of students who searched the sky for the solar eclipse.

They looked intently through solar eclipse viewers, taking them off and looking down, putting them on and looking up. But the skies over Ben Milam Elementary did not yield before the searching eyes of the fourth- and fifth-graders who had assembled in the play ground at 1:30 p.m.

“I enjoyed lit because it got a little bit dark,” said Miguel De La Garza, 11, a fifth-grader.

“I thought it was cool.”

His teacher, Delilah Garza, was visibly disappointed.

“I really wanted them to see the eclipse,” she said.

Garza had spent many days and weeks preparing her students for the eclipse.

“They learned that the moon revolves around the Earth and how it can block the shadow of the moon,” she said.

The kids all seemed to have enjoyed the experience and learned a great deal about the science of space.

“We used Oreo cookies, the vanilla ones and the chocolate ones, and the cream in the middle was the ring of fire as the solar eclipse,” said Allison Lerma, 9, a fourth-grader.

Superintendent J.A. Gonzalez stood among the students and had his own safety glasses. He gazed also into the cloudy skies and could see nothing but — well, cloudy skies.

“We were all very excited about safely viewing the eclipse, but unfortunately the clouds didn’t cooperate,” he said. “It did provide a valuable learning experience for all of us! Patience, first and foremost! And a great opportunity for our students to take a deep dive into astronomy.”

And that they did. Teachers took their students through all manner of activities to learn about astronomy. Just ask Gryphon Smith, 9.

“My teacher taught us about the solar eclipse and other stuff like that,” he said.

Now he proudly displayed his craft for all to see: a bright white sphere spreading its rays into a field of black.