Earthquake drill at Lake Arrowhead Elementary a success

Oct 27, 2022 | Education

Senior Writer

Some 430 students, along with their teachers and the office staff at Lake Arrowhead Elementary School participated in the Great California Shakeout on Thursday, Oct. 20. While the three yearly drills normally occur at precisely 10:20 a.m. on the 20th day of the month, due to some scheduling difficulties, last week’s exercise began around 9:05 a.m.
At 5 minutes past 9 a.m. a buzzer alarm went off and Principal Veronica McGilvery announced over the school’s PA system that all students teachers and staff members needed to quickly duck under their tables or desks, put one hand over their heads and with their other hand grab one leg of their table or desk to hold it in place in case there was some shaking, which would likely occur during an actual earthquake.
A few minutes later, McGilvery came back on the PA to announce that everyone needed to quietly walk, in an orderly manner, out to the school’s grassy field, with each class following their teacher and then lining up, while remaining orderly and quiet.
Meanwhile, the principal’s secretary told The Alpine Mountaineer, “Each teacher accounts for every student by checking their name off on a yellow list in order to make sure that everyone had safely evacuated their classroom. In the event that one or more students are not accounted for, the principal would check each classroom and all other areas of the school for any missing students.” In this case, there were none missing.
When the drill ended at 9:12 a.m., McGilvery announced, “I appreciate that every one of you waited quietly while you were standing in line; thank you very much.” Before returning to their classrooms, this reporter was given permission to interview several students. Ava, who is in the third grade, was asked why it is important to have earthquake drills. She responded, “So you are ready if a real earthquake comes and, if you practice, you’ll know what to do.” Second-grader Odin was asked if his teacher had talked to the class about earthquakes and what to do if there is one. Odin said, “Mr. Zaeske (his teacher) said, when there is shaking going on, you need to go under your table and hold onto one of the legs, so things don’t collapse on you. When the shaking stops you need to get out quickly.” A nearby teacher said that was an amazingly coherent statement, coming from a second-grade student.
According to Principal McGilvery, California’s Education Code requires each school to have three earthquake drills each school year. She said the first one was in September. “The Ed Code also requires a fire drill each month, as well as a lock-down drill two times a year. “If there is an actual lock-down, all teachers have a copy of the procedures. The doors are normally locked but, in case one isn’t, there’s a rubber strip on the door to pull it closed and locked quickly. Also, students are instructed to move away from the walls, doors and windows, and all of the window shades are pulled down.”
McGilvery wants to remind parents that Red Ribbon Week began on Monday, Oct. 24. During that week, she said, students would be taught about the hazards associated with the use of drugs and alcohol. She added that there will also be an Emergency Services Day coming up soon, where representatives from the CHP, sheriff’s department and fire department will be at both Lake Arrowhead and Charles Hoffman Elementary Schools to talk to kids, and that kids would get a chance to sit in a patrol car and in a fire engine and even get to wear a bullet-proof vest. Check each school’s website for the time and date of each event.

LAE Principal Veronica McGilvery ducks beneath her desk during last week’s earthquake drill. (Photos by Douglas W. Motley)

Students lined up on the school’s playground after evacuating their classrooms.

The principal’s secretary checks her yellow sheet to make sure every student is accounted for.


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