AMHERST, Ohio (WJW) – It was the last day of school. Everyone was boisterous and with good reason.
Not only did they have a great year with their friends and teachers, but they also managed to get an extra day off from school next year.
That day is April 8, 2024 — the day a total solar eclipse rolls right over their hometown.
It started with a writing assignment, but turned into a big class discussion and some letters taken to the school board.
After a spirited game of rock, paper, scissors to see who goes first, they presented their findings.
“How would you feel if there was a really big event you wanted to go to and there was something like schoolwork in the way?” fifth-grader Jude Palos told the board in his letter.
The students sent nine letters to the board arguing for a day off. Two got to read theirs in person.
The students argued that the eclipse wasn’t just a once in a lifetime event, there were real issue to consider here.
There are scientific reasons.
“It’s a total solar eclipse. It’s not just a smaller one, but otherwise you’d have to travel across the world to see one,” Crosby Mardy said.
There are also issues with crowds.
“A lot of people are coming here to see the solar eclipse, so there’s going to be a lot of bad traffic and you don’t want to be stuck in a bus or a car for a long time,” Cora Ryan said.
But some reasons are more personal.
“I’d like to make memories with my family,” Sophia Santiago said.
“It only happens every 400 years and you want to experience it with your family,” Violet Hawkins said.
“Me and my friend have a snow cone business and we wanted to sell snow cones that day,” Lola Born said.
Their teachers say no matter what the reason, this was a great way to teach discussion and debate.
“We talked about citizenship and we talked about even though they’re not old enough to vote and those things, they can still be involved in the community and make a difference as a kid,” science teacher Erin Kisner said.
They did help make a difference. The school board had already been considering a request by the county to close school because of all the people and the timing. The eclipse will happen around the time the school day ends.
So, they put to a vote and it passed unanimously.
It will be a calamity day for Amherst Exempted Village Schools, not one caused by the weather, but by other natural circumstances.
So on the last day of school, these fifth graders have a well-earned day off next year and go into the summer knowing they helped to make it happen.