Lehigh Valley

Emmaus High observatory ready for stargazing

EMMAUS, Pa. - "This is a big day," said Scott Didra, a retired architecture teacher from Emmaus High School.

It's a day where the sky is now the limit for students.

"This project started in 2010. 2010 I looked out my window and I saw a vacant courtyard and I said, wow, let's build something," said Didra.

Students and faculty at Emmaus High School tossed around ideas for years.

Some students remembered a teacher had a donated telescope that wasn't being used.

That's when the idea for a retractable observatory was born.

"The roof has to open. This is ridiculous. Too many things can go wrong. It's above the level of a high school project. And I was wrong. The observatory is behind us," said one Emmaus graduate.

The students came up with the concept, drew up plans, and got to work building the retractable roof that can be controlled remotely.

"To see a roof open with the push of a button. And the students did this. They built this from the ground up. They built it totally in a team-oriented environment much like an architecture firm," said Didra.

Didra says the observatory took two years to build.

And even though Didra retired in 2016, he didn't walk away from the project or his students.

"The more you give them the more you give them back. When students are excited about doing something then you get so much out of them you won't believe it," said Didra.

He says students got to experience a real work environment, and things like being part of a team, problem solving, failing and succeeding.

"This is something that's just been an incredible experience" said Didra.

An experience that's taught students to reach for the stars.

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