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Studying the Sky in Night School


The clouds cleared enough to see Venus and Jupiter during Night School at Endeavor Elementary on a recent Tuesday.

About 300 first- through fifth-grade students stayed up all night, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., to watch the wonders of the night sky, study astronomy and participate in star- and planet-themed activities tied to all subjects. “We learned about the planets and the solar system,” said fourth-grader Diego Saldivar.

“The fun thing is being able to stay up until 6 in the morning,” added fourth-grader Luke Elyea. “I drank three cups of hot chocolate.”

Tired students got some sleep, but most stayed up all night long
Tired students got some sleep, but most stayed up all night long

Night School, started in 1999 by fourth-grade teacher Susan Stapleton, is held every four or five years to make sure all students have a chance to experience the event during their years at Endeavor.

It takes place during the Leonid meteor shower, which peaked November 18 this year.

Stapleton grew up in Ludington, where she saw the Northern Lights and many starry nights. Stapleton started Night School because she wanted her students to see twinkling stars, streaking meteors and glowing planets.

“If it even makes them aware of the night sky, we’ve gained something,” she said. “So many of us never look up.”

Hundreds of volunteers worked two-hour shifts during Night School. Students went out to look at the sky, which was too cloudy for much viewing.

A volunteer from James C. Veen Observatory, in Lowell, provided information on planets and constellations,

Students painted Northern Lights with oil pastels; made constellation telescopes, studied constellations in a blow-up planetarium, and played games like Meteor Math.

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Leonid Meteor Shower Information

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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