The rain stopped and the clouds cleared just in time for Cass County to see a partial solar eclipse on Monday.
While Cass County was not in the path of totality, most of the county saw more than 99 percent of the moon blocking the rays of the sun.
For just a couple minutes in Belton, streetlights came on as the eclipse reached its peak.
Hundreds people stopped to get a glimpse of the sun at Hillcrest STEAM Academy while school was in session. Students in grades kindergarten through second grade stayed in the gymnasium and watched NASA’s live stream of the once-in-a-lifetime event while students in grades third through sixth were outside.
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Some families joined their children outside the school for the eclipse-viewing experience. School officials said they opted to have younger students inside to ensure they wouldn’t harm their vision by taking off their solar eclipse glasses while looking at the sun.
Students who were outside during the experience screamed and yelled as the sky became darker after 1 p.m. Monday. Some students described a “cool” feeling coming over them as totality was almost reached. Children outside chanted, “It’s almost there!”
Teachers had been preparing their students for the eclipse since school started at Belton School District 124 last week. Other Cass County districts, such as Harrisonville, did the same.
Ken McCrary, a fifth-grade teacher, said he was relieved to see the storm clouds leave the area before the partial eclipse began. Teachers helped students prepare for the big day by going over safety drills, instructing children how to use the eclipse glasses provided by the Cass County Health Department and completing writing and science projects based on the eclipse.
“It turned out really well. We were excited when it started clearing off and we could see it,” McCrary said.
About 500 students enrolled at Hillcrest STEAM Academy got to view the eclipse, according to the school’s principal, Roxanne Pearson. Pearson was among staff members supervising younger students inside the gymnasium on Monday.
“Overall, it was amazing, and it was great to see all the families who came out and interact with the kids,” Pearson said among dozens of excited children headed back to class. “What an experience...It’s an experience that they’ll never have again.”