CCHS students scanning the Vermont skies. Photo courtesy of the Concord Education Fund

Retrospective: CCHS ninth graders view total eclipse and make a high school memory in Vermont

By Sarafina Zhang — CCHS Correspondent

While Concord observers could view this month’s eclipse with more than 90% totality, those who journeyed further north had the rare chance to have the full experience.  

Among those who did: 215 CCHS ninth graders and 15 faculty and chaperones, who, thanks to the Ninth Grade Academy’s planning and persistence, successfully traveled to Lyndon State College in rural Vermont for the big event. 

“It was impressive to see the sun hidden behind the moon,” said Ziyao Ma, CCHS Class of 2027. 

CCHS ninth graders at Lyndon State College. Photo courtesy of Ray Pavlik

To get there, students and faculty split up among five buses. The journey up was not easy. CCHS science teacher Ray Pavlik, the expedition’s visionary, said it took six and a half hours to get everyone to the campus.

“The roads were overwhelmed,” he said, and there were “so many people going up,” in part because, due to cloud cover in New York, skywatchers drove east for better viewing. 

There was “a period where we thought we wouldn’t make it,” but “once we got in the path of totality, people relaxed,” he said, and the entire caravan made it to Lyndon State in time. 

Pavlik said there were “several thousand people on campus,” all hoping to make a once-in-a-lifetime memory. The CCHS crew went straight to the soccer field for its clear view of the sky. 

Ninth-grade English teacher Medea Ray said “the field was packed with people from all over. It attracted so many people… all looking up with our futuristic-looking glasses, mesmerized by the event.” 

An epic moment

The moment of totality at Lyndon State College. Photo courtesy of Melea Ray

As the sun shifted out of sight, the excitement was contagious as the students eagerly waited for the moment of totality. 

“What was almost as magnificent as seeing the eclipse, although nothing can truly compare, were those moments of anticipation on the field,” Ray said. 

“The world seemed to surround us in an eerie yellow hue as we began to approach totality. It brought out what felt like deep, instinctual feelings of concern that something wasn’t right in the world, that something was coming.” 

At what Pavlik and Ray called the “epic” and “breathtaking” moment of totality, the CCHS group saw the eclipse cast its shadow on the world, leaving just a halo of light around the moon. 


Viewing the total eclipse “was an experience I’ll never forget; it was like watching a portal opening up in the sky,” Pavlik said. “The light around the sun… the pure white-blue, beautiful light at totality, was just incredible.” 

Students awaiting totality. Photos courtesy of Ray Pavlik

A beautiful sunset framed the darkened sky, and stars appeared. 

The energy of everyone watching the eclipse was unmatched: “Everyone was cheering and yelling ‘Oh, my God,’” Mrs. Ray said. 

“Honestly, the best part was being able to witness this event with my students and my colleagues — especially getting a glimpse of it through the eyes of many excited science teachers.” 

After two or three hours of marveling at the Vermont sky, it was time to return south. No amount of planning could have predicted the struggle that would follow.

“On the way home, we sat in the biggest traffic jam in the history of New England,” Pavlik said. 

The road back to Concord. Photo courtesy of Ray Pavlik