Over 100 Students Showed Up to a Solar Eclipse Party Their Teacher Invited Them to 46 Years Earlier

“It’s not about the eclipse. It’s about you guys being here to share this time with my family and me and each other.”

Photo of solar eclipse teacher Patrick Moriarty in 1978 and 2024

More than one once-in-a-generation event happened this week. In an extraordinary reunion, retired science teacher Patrick Moriarty watched the awe-inspiring solar eclipse with more than 100 of his former students whom he began inviting to the event in 1978.

Moriarty told NBC News the origins of this remarkable event.

In 1978, Moriarty encouraged his 9th-grade class at Spry Junior High in Rochester, New York, to mark down April 8, 2024.

Moriarty recalled this proposal to his students: “Circle this April 8, 2024, eclipse—and you know what? We’re going to get together on that.” The reaction? Good old-fashioned middle school apathy and incredulity. (Very on-brand for teenagers, we might add.)

Undeterred, Moriarty persisted, reminding his class of their solar eclipse party for the next 16 years. Fast-forward four decades, and Moriarty turned to modern means, posting an online reminder to his “kids” to ensure the event wouldn’t slip their minds. Now adults who’ve left their teenage reticence behind, they remembered.

On the day of the eclipse, one by one, Moriarty’s former students began streaming into his house for the party-turned-reunion.

Among them (go ahead and get your tissues now, folks) was one former student who was so inspired by Moriarty’s passion for science, he became a science teacher himself.


Reflecting on the gathering, Moriarty expressed gratitude for the opportunity to reconnect with his students.

“When I had these kids, they were 9th graders. And 9th graders wear a teenage mask, and they don’t let you know that you’re getting through. Now they’re adults, and the mask is off.”

In another poignant moment, Moriarty underscored the true essence of the reunion:

“It’s not about the eclipse. It’s about you guys being here to share this time with my family and me and each other.”

It’s not an easy time to be a teacher. But this sentiment is a great reminder of the truest joy an educator can experience: seeing your hard work pay off.

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