From Disheartened to Triumphant, Cumberland Academy Students Receive Gift of the Eclipse

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When the headmaster at Cumberland Academy of Georgia realized the eclipse glasses were unsafe for the student body to watch the August 21 solar eclipse, Atlanta television station WSB-TV put the word out on social media. Within a couple hours the local community had donated over 100 eclipse glasses—enough for all the students.

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When I typed in the name of the glasses I had purchased, a big warning came up on my screen that said ‘Do not use’ and I just felt sick inside

As was true at schools across the nation, students at Cumberland Academy of Georgia, an Atlanta special needs-school, looked forward to viewing the solar eclipse during the school day on August 21. But the students were almost kept from this special event.

Debbi Scarborough, the school’s headmaster and founding director, had purchased 100 pairs of solar eclipse glasses from a website. The glasses were advertised as ISO-approved and CE-certified, meaning they were supposed to meet the international safety standards for viewing a solar eclipse. But during the days before the eclipse, Scarborough had been seeing coverage about eclipse glasses that were fake or hazardous, so she did a search online and discovered that the glasses she had received were not safe.

“When I typed in the name of the glasses I had purchased, a big warning came up on my screen that said ‘Do not use’ and I just felt sick inside,” Scarborough relates. “I knew how excited the students were about seeing the eclipse, but I also knew that at this late date it would be just about impossible to get new glasses.”

Atlanta television station, WSB-TV Channel 2, got involved and quickly put the word out on social media. Within a couple hours the local community had donated over 100 eclipse glasses—enough for the entire student body. Cumberland students were able to watch the solar event as planned.

WSB-TV also contacted the company that Scarborough had bought the glasses from. The company responded with an issued statement that stated, “Unfortunately, our supplier scammed us with fake certificate. As soon as we found out about this unacceptable scam, we sent an email to all of our customers that purchased these glasses that they shouldn’t use it.”

According to Scarborough, the company never sent her any emails. “I am concerned about other schools that may have purchased those glasses, and really hope they did not have any problems,” she says.

On a very positive note, Scarborough adds that she is very thankful for Channel 2’s help. “Thank you to Channel 2 for putting us out there, and thanks to everyone in the community who provided us with glasses,” she says. “August 21 could have turned into a very disappointing day for Cumberland students. Instead, it was a very exciting day, and an experience they will always remember—not only because they got to watch the eclipse, but because they got to see the good people can do when a community pulls together.”

About Cumberland Academy of Georgia:
Cumberland Academy of Georgia specializes in the needs of students in grades 4 through 12 who have high-functioning autism, Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities. Cumberland was founded in 2007 by Debbi and Matthew Scarborough, and is a fully-accredited, independent, non-profit school that seeks to provide a safe and supportive academic atmosphere for its students. Cumberland accepts applications year-round. To schedule a family tour, please contact Terri Brooks, director of admissions, at 404-835-9000, or email admissions(at)cumberlandacademy.org.

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Deedra Hughes
Cumberland Academy of Georgia
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