San Carlos School District participates in California ShakeOut


Emma Romanowsky

Carlmont sophomores Jordan Lin, Kyle Wilkinson, and Varun Suklikar simulate earthquake protocol.

Emma Romanowsky, Highlander Editor-in-Chief

Hundreds of San Carlos students dropped, covered, and waited as they participated in California’s Great ShakeOut earthquake drill on Oct. 19 in The Great California ShakeOut.

The Great California ShakeOut occurs annually to encourage emergency preparedness. It was established in response to the earthquake that hit the Bay Area in 1989.

To participate, the San Carlos School District, Carlmont and millions of other schools and districts statewide followed earthquake protocol to practice safe habits in the event of an actual earthquake. The San Carlos School District has participated in the drill since 2008.

“We need to practice routines so in a real emergency everyone knows what to do. The practice helps everyone to feel secure and in control.  It lessens anxiety and worries in a real emergency,” said Arroyo School Principal Marie Crawford.

San Mateo County provides local school districts with specific protocols that even fourth and fifth graders like the ones at Arroyo School can participate in and follow along with. These include scripts to say over the loudspeaker and practices to use.

“We practice our routines and procedures that are associated with the Big 5 Emergency drills. Law enforcement will watch our drills and give us feedback about how to improve,” said Crawford.

Although taking time out of a school-day for a drill could be considered a time-waster, students tend to actually appreciate the emergency preparedness training.

“Over time I feel more comfortable with earthquakes and earthquake drills. I feel much safer and prepared for when a real earthquake might happen. If we did not have earthquake drill I would be much more nervous for an earthquake. Now I feel prepared,” said Jane Rak, a seventh-grader at Central Middle School, another San Carlos school and participant in the Great ShakeOut.

Despite students’ appreciation, teachers say it can be difficult to convey the seriousness of a real emergency.

“The most difficult part of conducting drills with middle schoolers is striking the balance between seriousness and not too serious. It isn’t play-acting, but it can feel ridiculous. I sometimes think it would be good to let the older kids help plan and conduct the drills,” said San Carlos Charter Learning Center educator Ingermarie Davis.

Carlmont students viewed the earthquake drill with less seriousness and less enthusiasm.

“It [the drill] was deemed a necessity by the school when in reality it was a waste of time. There is no guarantee that it will prepare us but still, we spend almost an entire period sitting on the field,” said Kyle Wilkinson, a sophomore.

However, The Great California ShakeOut is a platform that will continue to be a source of statewide education for earthquake safety, so it is possible that Carlmont will view the drill more seriously in future years.

“I do believe that if we practice enough there is more of a chance that people will respond with a little more reason that if we have no idea what to expect. I feel like I know what to do which is comforting. I feel like I won’t be that [person] who wasn’t prepared,” said Davis.

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