The 10,200 students in Worthington Schools will resume classes Wednesday, Aug. 16, and Thursday, Aug. 17, with some special lessons on a celestial phenomenon.

Monday, Aug. 21, will be the first full eclipse of the sun visible in the contiguous United States since 1979, though it will be only a partial eclipse for viewers in central Ohio.

Superintendent Trent Bowers said students and staff members would watch the eclipse.

"By 2:30 p.m. that day, 86 percent of the sun will be blocked out," Bowers said. "Worthington Schools purchased 11,000 pairs of eclipse-approved glasses for all of our students and staff to safely view the eclipse."

He said the glasses cost the district 45 cents apiece, which means 11,000 pairs would cost $4,950.

"Our plan is to create grade-level appropriate lessons around the eclipse," Bowers said.

Brian Geniusz, the district's director of science curriculum, said students would be taught about the solar eclipse -- including safety -- during the first days of school.

"The glasses look like something you would wear in a 3-D movie, but they are specially filtered for direct sun viewing," he said.

Bowers said the eclipse is just one of the reasons he is excited to begin a new school year, which begins Aug. 16 for all students except sophomores, juniors and seniors, who start Aug. 17. The early start helps the younger students, especially freshmen, transition to new grade levels or buildings, he said.

"Our students in Worthington move from relatively small middle schools into large comprehensive high schools," Bowers said. "Each freshman is assigned an upperclassman mentor and on the first day, that mentor helps them navigate the school, learn their schedule, understand where they can access help, if needed. ...

"This day hopefully helps our freshmen feel more comfortable at school and begin to connect with the high school and all it has to offer. We really like this day for our kids and we believe it's worth it."

Bowers said the district has hired 39 teachers and a number of new principals for the new school year.

"The teachers have been selected because they possess an understanding of the need for balance between classroom rigor and building positive relationships with their students," Bowers said.

Aric Thomas will take over as principal at Worthington Kilbourne High School, replacing Angie Adrean. Adrean was promoted to chief academic officer after Jennifer Wene retired.

Worthington Hills Elementary School also has a new principal -- Allie Seiling, who formerly taught at the school and was a student there when she began her elementary education -- as does Sutter Park Preschool, with Tricia Hosking.

Other new faces include athletics director Jen Goebbel and Thomas Worthington High School assistant principals Milton Folson and Emilie Greenwald.

However, the new year also will bring a few challenges, he said.

Evening Street Elementary School sixth-graders once again will be accommodated at Kilbourne Middle School to deal with overcrowding, and the district is utilizing modular classrooms at Colonial Hills and Worthington Hills elementary schools to handle another overflow of students, he said.

"Even with these additions, there will be grade levels at certain elementary schools that have to be capped, and students new to Worthington may have to be overflowed to an elementary school outside their designated attendance zones," Bowers said.

He said another challenge is the ongoing facilities-planning process.

"In September, we are hopeful that our task force will be ready to present a master facilities plan to our (school board)," he said. "The plan will likely address our most immediate challenges, including finding a long-term solution for enrollment growth, making sure our facilities operate with today's learning in mind and ensure that our high school enrollment is balanced."

Details about back-to-school events are available at worthington.k12.oh.us.

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