The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

Hudson Woods throws his arms out after a play before getting into position
Hudson Woods climbs to new heights after standout sophomore season
Jonathan Jones, Sports Writer • May 18, 2024
Joshua Velasquez committed to serving his country in the U.S. Army.
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Margaret Edmonson, Adviser • May 17, 2024
Sydney Rakowitz will study education and training and music at the University of Incarnate Word.
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Boy Scouts of America announced on May 7 the organizations name will change to Scouting America on the organizations 115th birthday Feb. 8, 2025. Photo by JV via
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The top 15 students in the senior class receive special recognition at graduation on May 22 due to their hard work throughout high school. 
Graphic by Alex Whelchel via Canva
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Solar flair

Crowds expected in area for historic eclipse Monday
from Bryan Goff: “This is a composition I made during the eclipse (in August 2017). It shows the beginning of the eclipse all the way to totality in the center. Each photo was taken about 10 minutes apart. I took these photos at Crooked River Ranch in Oregon. I just happened to find this spot on Google maps. I am very pleased with the outcome.” Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend on the area Monday for the Great North American Eclipse Monday afternoon.

Traffic is expected to be heavy, so Comal school district will be closed because of concerns transporting students on Interstate 35, Texas 46, U.S. 281 and Farm-to-Market 306. About two-thirds of the district lies in the path of totality.

“We are fortunate to live in an area that will allow us to experience this historic eclipse,” superintendent John Chapman said, “and by taking the day off, we will alleviate concerns about transportation and attendance.”

The PTSA bought solar glasses for all students, who received them during fourth period on Friday. Bulverde Spring Branch Chamber of Commerce, 121 Bulverde Crossing, Suite 115, will hand out free eclipse glasses available for pickup courtesy of SJRC Texas (formerly known as St. Jude’s Ranch for Children). 

Graphic by Bethany Mann

About the eclipse 

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, lining up in a straight line, fully or partially blocking the Sun’s light. 

“It only happens about every 18 months because the tilt of the orbit is about 5 degrees off, so it takes it about 18 months to line up,” astronomy teacher Bryan Williams said.

This is the first time the eclipse has passed over the United States since 2017 and the first time Texas has experienced a total eclipse since 1878.

“You can also create a pinhole camera by using something opec, like aluminum foil, and you poke a hole on a target below,” Williams said. “The sun will come through the hole and create a camera image on the area outside like a projector.”

According to NASA, when the sun is no longer visible in the eclipse glasses, it is safe to take the glasses off because it is in totality, meaning the moon is completely covering the Sun. Once light from the sun is visible again, people should immediately put their glasses back on.


Michael Zeiler,

Eclipse photography

Just like following eye safety precautions, using a solar filter on camera lenses will be critical for eclipse photography, according to NASA. Without it, the photographer will damage the camera and his eyes.

A certified solar filter must be used on the lens throughout the partial phases for both photography and safe viewing,” Fred Espenak wrote on the NASA site. “The most important point to remember is that during the total phase, all solar filters must be removed.”

NASA experts recommend using a long focal length (200-500 mm lens)  to capture the best images possible and an ISO of 50 to 100.

“The easiest method for determining the correct exposure is accomplished by running a calibration test on the uneclipsed Sun,” according to the NASA site. “Shoot a roll of film of the mid-day sun at a fixed aperture (f/8 to f/16) using every shutter speed between 1/1000 and 1/4 second. After the film is developed, note the best exposures and use them to photograph all the partial phases.”

Don’t have a fancy camera? Try using your cell phone or automatic cameras. NASA suggests using a kitchen utensil with holes to act as pinhole cameras projecting their own images of the sun on white cardboard paper several feet away. This can be accomplished with anything that has an opening. Be sure to turn the flash off so it does not blow out the pinhole images.


Public viewing events

Here is a list of events planned for viewing the eclipse: 

Mammen Family Public Library, 131 Bulverde Crossing in Bulverde – eclipse viewing drop-in 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., with the first 300 people receiving free eclipse glasses.

Spring Branch Tennis Association, 114 Jumbo Evans Blvd. in Spring Branch –  eclipse watch party with the gates opening at 8 a.m.

Grace Fellowship, 32445 US Highway 281 North in Bulverde – total solar eclipse extravaganza 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.; two viewing sites, eclipse-themed music and snacks, science activities and lessons, and free eclipse glasses 

Guadalupe River State Park, 3350 Park Road 31 in Spring Branch – day passes available,

Natural Bridge Caverns, 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd, San AntonioTotal Eclipse at the Park, The Dark Sky Package $44.99 and The Moon Shadow Package $32.99

PaddleTX, 1273 River Terrace, New Braunfels – Solar Eclipse on the River, five-hour tube float 

The District on 46, 15000 SH-46 in Spring Branch – eclipse watch party starts at 11 a.m.

Screaming Goat, 4 Sun Valley Dr, Spring Branch – Total Eclipse Live Music Watch Party, starts at noon, $25 adults, $12 children

Spring Creek Gardens, 11355 U.S. 281 in Spring Branch – 1-2 p.m., $10 admission includes glasses

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