‘I could see their little ninth grade faces still’: Retired teacher reunites with former students for eclipse

Retired Teacher Reunites with Students for Eclipse

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BRIGHTON, N.Y. – It was one of the most anticipated total solar eclipse parties in Rochester and it was nearly 50 years in the making.

News10NBC’s Marsha Augustin told you about Patrick Moriarty, a retired Webster science teacher who planned to reunite with students he taught back in the 70s and 80s, for Monday’s solar eclipse.

Marsha Augustin went back to his home on Monday afternoon for the big reunion and the big eclipse party he had with those former students.

It started with an eclipse promise decades ago. Most of these former students were just 14 years old when Patrick Moriarty told them they would reunite in 2024. Now they are in their mid-fifties.

“When they were walking up, I could see their little ninth grade faces still,” Patrick Moriarty said.

Moriarity can’t believe he pulled this big celestial event off and everyone showed up.

“The eclipse was amazing. Of course, Rochester, we had two days of sun and it’s back to gloomy. No glasses needed,” Andrea Rock said.

We met Rock and Kevin Thompson two former students of Moriarty’s a few weeks ago for the story we first did on plans for the reunion. Now it’s happening and Kevin explained it’s everything he heard it would be.

“Minus seeing the sun do its actual thing but amazing and not just that how quiet everyone here became how dark it got so quick,” Thompson said.

Moriarty explained to these former students in class years ago, this would happen during the 2024 solar eclipse.

“It was awesome even to this day Mr. Moriarty even gave us a little earth science lesson, Peter Paul another former student said.

“It’s the impact of teachers it really is Marsha and what teachers can bring to a person’s life. It became so clear to me and it crescendoed today to being what it was, and it was overwhelming,” Moriarty said.

It was not only a once in a lifetime experience for Laurie King but also a memory she will hold close to her heart.

“It was wonderful because it’s something I never thought I would ever ever do,” King a former student said.

Kendra Denson, Suzanne Sirianni and Jennifer Heaphy were a part of the graduating class of 88. Reuniting in 2024 seemed liked the space age to them back then.

“Like okay sure, whatever you say. We didn’t believe him, but he followed through,” Heaphy said.

Suzanne Sirianni: “This one over here is my first best friend in my life and I haven’t seen her in years.”

Marsha Augustin: “Aww BFF’s.”

Suzanne Sirianni: “Yes, she poked me on the shoulder and I’m like oh my god its Kendra Denson.”

“It’s surreal and I cried. I cried just watching everybody,” Denson said.

This total solar eclipse brought out many emotions during this reunion. For some the eclipse represented a spiritual moment. After the darkness … light.

“The calmness. Everyone was so calm. We can come from all different kinds of walks of life, all different kinds of views and we are all in this together and it was just peaceful,” former student James Cotton said.

Moriarty explained the next total solar eclipse in the United States will take place on August 23, 2044, 20 years from now.

When asked if there would be another reunion he expressed who knows, it depends on what being 88 feels like.