Monday was the first day of school for Grayson College students, and South Campus Dean Kim Williams and her staff had more than just curriculum in place for them. A welcome sign with the announcement of an eclipse watch party scheduled for the hour before the solar eclipse passed over North Texas. Students were also met with a refreshment table filled with Milky Ways, Moon Pies, Starbursts, fresh-cut sunflowers, and centerpieces of a globe, moon, and sun.

“We try to do some fun events throughout the year,” Williams said. “When students are engaged, they come to class. They are successful and are a part of the whole community.”

In preparation for the event, and for the coinciding start of school, South Campus Administrative Assistant Kim Weber said she attempted to buy many pairs of safety glasses for the students, but found that they were all sold out everywhere she looked. Then, she learned that the helmets used in the college’s welding program blocked out more than 10 percent than the eclipse watching special glasses. So, they rustled up those helmets and the department’s extra refill lenses so that more students could get a glimpse of the happenings.

“Some people brought their own glasses, of course,” Webster said.

One of the instructors, Tiffany Chartier, finished up her adult education class for GED and English as a Second Language instruction, which has been going on through the summer months. “We studied eclipses this study. We learned how to view safely, how it affects the animal kingdom, and lots more.”

The class was a comprehensive combined class of language skills and science. Chartier said that morning, to close the class down, she gave them a list of words, and together the adults in the class were asked to write a story using those words. She read their story: “The solar eclipse may be deterious to your eyes. Recluse people will most like refuse to go out later to see the phenomonom. Though it is a rate sight, it isn’t out of the norm for people to skip watching it happen. There has been a lot of sarcasm regarding solar eclipse glasses social media. It is important to have a stalward individual check out the reliable source. Science is sanguine with the studies of the solar.”

Chartier said that these adults are all now redy to take their GED. “I am very proud of them, and they all have supportive families behind them,” she said.

Laura Covian, originally from Mexico and now living in McKinney, said, “This is absolutely my first eclipse. I remember the Red Moon.” After she viewed the eclipse, using one of the welding helmets, she, as did all the other 65 students who watched the eclipse over the Grayson College south campus building, went straight back to her class.

Tammy Battin, now a Van Alstyne resident originally from Leonard, came back into the main building lobby with a smile that beamed as bright as that sun. “It was so awesome, and on the first day of school, and it’s the first full solar eclipse in a long time,” Battin said, still beaming. She has been reading all about not only this eclipse, she said, but others, and is already aware that the next one is scheduled for 2024.

“And that’s all pretty interesting.” Battin, a nursing student, added, “The most exciting thing is to me how it’s all aligned with the first day of school. Everything has to be in alignment. And it’s amazing how the moon is so much smaller than the sun, but with the distances (from earth), the moon can block the sun out.

“It reminds me that we are so much tinier and there are bigger things out there,” she said.

The last one watching it all, also using a welding helmet, was G.C instructor Dr. Richard Davis. He teaches English and Humanity, and looked at it as much from his knowledge of humanity as of anything. “I like a lot of this stuff. It’s a kind of unique thing. The students know it’s something different and not going to be around again for a while. They all seemed to take note, the strangeness of it. It reinforces a communal bond, a social bond, in the students,” he said.

Williams said that there are about 450 students signed for this Grayson County college term, with some still registering. She added, too, that classes like the GED and ESL course are free to adults who need them, such as one young lady going into the military who needed — and received — help with her math to pass the admission test.