Some students from West Hall High School traveled up to South Carolina Monday morning in two buses hoping to get to view the historic event in the “path of totality” where the sun was 100 percent covered.
They were not disappointed.
“It was great,” said Victoria Cardenas, a junior at West Hall High. “My favorite part was being able to see the rings after the whole moon was covering the sun and seeing the stars was really pretty. It didn’t get pitch black, but it did get really dark. It was an amazing experience.”
Senior Raul Loera said he also liked seeing the “rings around the eclipse.” He added that he also enjoyed “being able to really witness the eclipse with the special glasses that we had on and seeing a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
Joel Aquino, a science teacher at the school, said he had been planning for the event for about eight months. He saw a total solar eclipse in 1988 in the Philippines.
“I had the opportunity to watch a totality for more than four minutes; I know how it feels,” he said before the event. “That’s the reason why I want my students right now to feel it as well. Nothing beats totality.”
The group stopped at Exit 27 on Interstate 85 near Anderson, S.C., at a convenience store and gas station and watched the eclipse from an adjacent field. People from other parts of the country traveled to that spot as well with cars, pop-up tents and at least one RV.
“The reason that I picked this exit is this is actually where the center line of the totality will pass through,” Aquino said Monday morning. “My original plan was to go to North Georgia, but I changed my mind for the simple reason that a majority of people were going to go to North Georgia. I said I am going to go the opposite way.”
Eric Radich, another West Hall High science teacher, watched his first eclipse Monday.
“I wanted to come just because of the experience,” he said. “It’s going to be something to see at home, but as far as coming to the totality, you don’t get to see it too often. I’m 37 and never seen it.”
Vicky Benson came on the West Hall trip with her daughter Alexa, who is a senior and her son, Charles, a freshman.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime,” she said before the eclipse. “I really don’t know what to expect. I’m just kind of excited and I’m glad we get to experience it with someone who is experienced in this field.
Jeremiah Castleberry, a West Hall sophomore, called the trip “a lucky moment for me.”
“I wanted to experience this in real life, not on a video screen,” he said.