Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

About 30 students, ranging from those just entering middle school, those just entering high school and those in between, gathered at Baker High School to participate in the “June Experience.”

This year’s session has focused on the upcoming total solar eclipse, which will take place on Monday, Aug. 21.

“I never actually knew there was an eclipse,” said 12-year-old Abigael Fontenot, who’ll be a seventh-grader next year. “Some people were talking about it and I thought: ‘What is an eclipse?’ ”

Now she and her fellow classmates will be ambassadors helping others learn more about the topic.

Last week found the class working on posters ranging from topics such as eye safety while viewing the eclipse to myths and vocabulary words related to the eclipse and photos of former eclipses.

The posters will be placed around the high school’s track area where campers will be staying awaiting the arrival of the eclipse in Baker City on Aug. 21.

“It’s a good carrot,” Layton said. “To know that someone will actually see them.”

Abigael’s poster will have quick response (QR) codes attached that can be read by a cellphone or other device to lead the reader to websites where additional information is available from sources such as National Geographic, NASA and the Lowell Observatory Eclipse Site.

Students have boosted their vocabulary with words such as umbra, the darkest part of the moon’s shadow during an eclipse; path of totality, places (such as Baker City) where the moon will completely block the sun to send the area into total darkness for several minutes; and penumbra, the lighter part of the moon’s shadow during an eclipse.

Tristen Tritt, an 11-year-old who’ll be starting seventh-grade when classes resume in August, included the vocabulary words on a poster she was completing in class Wednesday morning.

Tristen made another poster “just for fun” as a demonstrator model for her classmates.

Tristen says she has greatly enjoyed being part of the June Experience class.

“It’s so fun and we do activities,” she said. “If I was at home I would be doing nothing.”

That’s part of the point of the June Experience, says teacher Eric Layton.

“It’s an effort to have a positive place for students in the summer,” he said.

Each student was referred by his or her classroom teacher as someone who could benefit from the experience.

Layton, who teaches science and math at the Baker Web Academy, co-taught the session with David Laws, a Baker High School language arts teacher.

Rob Ferdig and D.J. McCauley provided support as paraprofessionals.

On Thursday, students presented their final displays and then built and launched rockets for the summer program’s finale.

Those who missed just two of the nine Tuesday-through-Thursday sessions that started June 13 qualified for a free trip to Roaring Springs Waterpark and Wahooz Family Fun Zone at Meridian, Idaho. Eleven of the original 30 who signed up were able to attend the outing, Layton said. They boarded a school bus for Idaho at 7 o’clock Friday morning and returned around 5 p.m.

See more in the July 3, 2017 issue of the Baker City Herald.