Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation raises funds for solar eclipse glasses

By: Emily Droege;

Protecting peepers was the main aim for Bartlesville teachers whose students had the chance to view the rare solar eclipse Monday.

Thanks to the Bartlesville Public School Foundation and generous donors, thousands of students wore the proper eye protection to view the moon blotting out the sun.

In July, Granger Meador, executive director of technology and communications for Bartlesville’s school district, approached the BPSF about raising funds to purchase 7,000 solar eclipse glasses so that every student and staff member in the district could safely watch the celestial show.

Meador, a former district science department chair, proposed the project in memory of Ken Willcox, a local astronomer who loved eclipses and traveled around the world to view them. Willcox was instrumental in helping district school children safely view an annular eclipse in 1994.

Foundation Executive Director Blair Ellis said it only took the Foundation about a week to raise the $2,500 to purchase the glasses.

“We are fortunate to have a generous community that appreciates the importance of unique educational opportunities,” said Ellis. “Outer space fascinates everyone — kids and adults alike and curiosity drives learning.”

Students and staff at the district’s 10 school sites safely observed the maximum coverage of the historic eclipse around 1 p.m. Monday. The loss of solar radiation made it noticeably cooler, and only a sliver of the sun showed when safely viewed through approved eclipse glasses.

The glasses were ISO certified and manufactured by American Paper Optics, LLC, a company endorsed by American Astronomical Society, Ellis said.

“The Foundation supported this project because it allowed our community to participate in a nation-wide phenomenon,” she said. “Experiencing this celestial event develops their love of the study of science. It is something that they will remember forever.”

Donors to the BPSF drive included ChevronPhillips Chemical, Truity Credit Union, Dr. Jamie Bennett of Bennett Vision, Oklahoma Medical Eye Group, PSO, Dr. Emily Bussey, Bartlesville Astronomical Society, and Milton Enderlin and Vicky Travaglini.

The community is welcome to share eclipse photos on the BPSF Facebook page. To learn more about the BPSF, visit www. or call 918-336-8600, ext 3523.