By DOUGLAS W. MOTLEY
Following an announcement over the school’s intercom at precisely 10:19 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 19, some 432 preschool through fifth-grade students at Lake Arrowhead Elementary School quickly ducked beneath their desks and tables with both hands covering their heads during what was billed as the Great California Shakeout.
When the all-clear message came over the intercom a few minutes later, students lined up, as they had been taught to do by their teachers, and proceeded orderly and quietly through the hallway and out to the playground, where each class was neatly lined up while their teachers verified that everyone was safely accounted for.
Meanwhile, Principal Jaclyn Loncteaux reentered the school to search for any missing students.
This same scenario was repeated at each of the Rim school district’s six school campuses, as it was at all schools throughout California.
While lined up on the playground, 8-year-old third-grader Mikey, who had permission from his mother to be interviewed, was asked why it is so important to practice an earthquake drill. Mikey responded, “It’s so you won’t get trapped inside the school and get hurt.”
According to first-grade teacher Elissa Nedham, each month students at LAE practice either a fire, earthquake or an active shooter drill, with a total of 15 such drills during the nine-month school year.
Kara Maxcy, an administrative assistant to the principal, told the Alpine Mountaineer that one or two of the practice drills are held each month. “At the beginning of the year, teachers explain and also demonstrate to the students what they need to do during a drill, especially the duck and cover drill, which is really important for the younger students to know how to do properly.”