The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Eclipse excitement: Lab community gathers to celebrate unique celestial event

Under the clear, sunny sky on April 8, all students and faculty from lower to high school gathered at Jackman Field. This was not a typical assembly — it was a unique event organized to watch the rare total solar eclipse, peaking at 2:07 p.m. Students were excused from class during this time.

This eclipse, known as “The Great North American Eclipse,” was visible within a band extending from Mexico to Canada, passing across a wide swath of the United States, and will not be seen again in the United States until 2045. While some students traveled out of state to see the complete eclipse, the rest viewed it with 94% coverage at school.

The Adler Planetarium provided 2,700 viewing glasses and filters to prevent severe eye injuries. After, students were offered eclipse-themed snacks: Sun Chips, CapriSuns, and Orbit gum. 

Students and faculty had mixed opinions about the eclipse celebration. Some found the phenomenon to be amazing, some enjoyed the social aspect more, some were underwhelmed and some were afraid.  

“It’s beautiful. Nature is so magnificent. It’s really like nothing else,” junior Lee Rupple said.

Students who traveled to view the complete eclipse also enjoyed it, like junior Andrew Poston who drove to Indianapolis.

“I was surprised more people didn’t go,” Andrew said. “It was such an other-worldly experience.”

While those like Lee and Andrew were in awe of the eclipse, others were less enthused. 

“I understand what it might have meant in history, witchcraft, religious things — people thinking it was the end of the world,” physics teacher Francisco Saez said. “At that time, it might have been really amazing, but now it’s OK. We know everything about it. We know what is going to happen, for how long. It’s just too predictable. It’s not as fun anymore.” 

“I think that it is really really cool that everyone is coming together because everyone gets to bond and see people they don’t normally see — to see something that happens once in 20 years.”

— Hazel Hotz, seventh grader

Like Mr. Saez, ninth grader Iris Strahilevitz did not feel too excited, but she greatly enjoyed the social aspect.

“I loved hanging out on Jackman with friends but thought the eclipse was a little underwhelming,” Iris said.

Students were relaxing on the turf, holding glasses up to their eyes to view the eclipse. They were standing up, placing the glasses on their phone cameras to capture the perfect picture. They were socializing with friends and faculty, the fading sunlight shining down on them.

“It was amazing to see the whole Lab community together,” junior Alexander Saratovsky said. “It was definitely more fun to see and hang out with friends and classmates for a bit than to see the actual event.”

Few school events involve the entire Lab community, and students like seventh grader Hazel Hotz appreciated the scale of this event.

“I think that it is really really cool that everyone is coming together,” Hazel said, “because everyone gets to bond and see people they don’t normally see — to see something that happens once in 20 years.”

As the moon slowly began to cover more of the sun, the sunlight dimmed, casting a filter-like effect on the whole field. Heads pointed to the sky, eyes protected by viewing glasses, yet some looked away. 

“I’m so scared of the solar eclipse,” sophomore Cecilia Siegel said. “I’m so scared I’m gonna go blind. I love my vision. I’m terrified. This is the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.” 

Middle school librarian Amy Atkinson shared some of this fear.

“It’s nice to see everyone gathered together outside with their friends,” Ms. Atkinson said, “but I’m also a bit nervous that people will look directly at the sun.”

Whether excited or afraid, the event was certainly memorable. 

“It’s really cool how it’s so close to us this year,” senior Maria Razborova said. “I don’t think we’ll ever get to see it this close again.”

 — Additional reporting contributed by Taariq Ahmed, Lila Coyne, Lucia Dumitrescu, David Li and Olivia Quiles

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About the Contributors
Jaya Alenghat
Jaya Alenghat, City Life Editor
Jaya Alenghat is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as an assistant editor. She began journalism in the 2022-23 school year as a sophomore. Her favorite story she has written is “In finding community, English teacher provides comfort for Latinx students.” Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing tennis, reading and spending time with friends and family. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, sports news story: excellent 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: Certificate of merit, sports features, “Muslim student athletes navigate fasting during Ramadan while maintaining physical endurance” 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Excellent, news writing
Taariq Ahmed
Taariq Ahmed, Digital Editor
Taariq Ahmed is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as the digital editor. He joined the Midway as a sophomore after moving from St. Louis, where he completed Introduction to Journalism at his previous school in ninth grade. Taariq is a part of his school's Young Men of Color group and Being Racially Aware and Valuing Ethnicity conference board. Outside of school, Taariq enjoys reading the news, listening to music, playing soccer and spending time with family and friends.
Mia Lipson
Mia Lipson, News Editor
Mia Lipson is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as news editor. She began journalism in the 2021-22 school year as a ninth grader and previously served as an assistant editor. Her favorite story she has written is a profile on retiring P.E. teacher Terri Greene. Outside of journalism, she enjoys running, writing and reading any history book she can find. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, staff editorial: superior 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Superior, editorial writing
Nathan Li
Nathan Li, Photographer
Nathan Li, a member of the Class of 2025, is a beginning photojournalist. His favorite part of photojournalism is documenting sports and being able to include his friends. Outside of photojournalism, Nathan likes playing basketball and listening to music. 
Olin Nafziger
Olin Nafziger, Photographer
Olin Nafziger is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is taking pictures of school activities and sports, and his favorite sport to photograph is golf. Outside of class, Olin enjoys biking, watching TV and participating in various school clubs. Awards: 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, sports reaction, third place 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, still life, honorable mention
Eli Raikhel
Eli Raikhel, Photographer
Eli Raikhel is a photographer and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is taking pictures of school events. Outside of photojournalism, Eli enjoys playing soccer and playing with his dog.
Grace LaBelle
Grace LaBelle, Photographer
Grace LaBelle is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2026. Her favorite part of photojournalism is taking pictures at school assemblies. Outside of class, Grace enjoys going on bike rides, going on hikes and swimming. 
Ryan Burke-Stevenson
Ryan Burke-Stevenson, Photographer
Ryan Burke-Stevenson is a photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is being able to give a visual aspect to stories. Outside of photojournalism, Ryan is interested in cooking and cycling. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, non-sports photo: superior 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, advertising, first honorable mention
Ellis Calleri
Ellis Calleri, Photographer
Ellis Calleri is a member of the class of 2025 and is a beginning photojournalist. His favorite part of photojournalism is being able to grow his skills and knowledge of photography. Outside of photojournalism, Ellis enjoys working with metal and wood. He also enjoys Legos, gaming, hiking and photography.
Bryce Light
Bryce Light, Photographer
Bryce Light is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is documenting school events. Outside of photojournalism, Bryce enjoys soccer, video games and taking his dogs on walks. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, sports photo: excellent 2024 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: First place, single spot news photograph, “U-High celebrates community spirit in annual Homecoming assembly” (Photo 4: Teacher Matt Bonges)

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