February 8,2002
Teachers look to the heavens at
Boca High
Students host event to show off school's powerful new
telescope.  Boca High teachers Kathy Roberts looks through
the new Celestron telescope purchased by the science
department as co-workers Jerry Kuntz and Patty Kirsch look on.

By Susanna Laurenti

Look left and right at Boca Raton High, and the scene isn't pretty: dirt and construction
equipment resulting from the school's ongoing renovation litter the campus at 1501 N.
W. 15th court.

But look up, and the view is much better as Boca High teachers discovered Thursday
night at a "Night Under the Stars" - an event for teachers hosted by student council

The purpose of the festivities was to give teachers a chance to try out the school's new,
state-of-the-art telescope. The $3,000 device uses a satellite to locate stars and planets
and is highly powerful.

"We could see the rings of Saturn and the stripes on Jupiter and everything," said
student council member Kelly McCormack, who organized the event. "It was incredible."

McCormack and others served snacks and Jamba Juice - frozen "smoothies" donated by
a nearby restaurant - as teachers peered through the massive telescope. About 30
teachers showed up, some with spouses and children in tow.

"It was a great, exciting thing. It's so nice to be invited. I didnÂ’t even know a telescope
like this existed," said geometry teacher Sandy Kornheiser who attended with her
husband, Gary. "Our students are always great and very loving."

The telescope, called a Celestron, was purchased for an honors astronomy class science
teacher Patty Kirsch started teaching this semester.

"Rather than go with older textbooks we decided to make it an online class and have
students take a lab twice a month where they have to come and look through the
telescope and find specific things in the sky," she said.

The telescope works via the same satellite system used in the navigational computers of
automobiles. The instrument has the location of about 40,000 celestial bodies
programmed into it and, using the coordinates it "knows" as a reference, can find almost
any star, galaxy or planet in the sky.

"It's just really incredible. The kids love it," said Kirsch.

Of the Night Under the Stars, she said, "It was a really great idea and very special for
the teachers. I mean, we don't generally socialize at night so it was nice to see
everybody come out and have a good time."