The mantra of “drop, cover and hold on” was recited Thursday at schools across Los Angeles Unified, as students, faculty and first-responders practiced how to respond to a catastrophic earthquake – a drill designed to trigger an automatic reaction when the next strong temblor hits.
Millions of people statewide participated in the Great California Shakeout, joining a worldwide movement to provide education on how to prepare for, survive and recover from a major quake.
“It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,” said Tina Curry, deputy director of the state Office of Emergency Services. “You can make a difference to reduce injury, death and property damage. ‘Drop, cover and hold on’ is the best defense in case of an earthquake.”
Curry spoke during a news conference at Dearborn Elementary Charter Academy in Northridge, where the District, the Los Angeles Fire Department and other agencies participated in a full-scale drill. They presumed a rupture along the San Andreas Fault, causing a 7.2 magnitude quake that toppled buildings, closed freeways and left people to fend for themselves. An earthquake simulator was set up for media to demonstrate the damage a strong temblor can cause in just a few seconds.
The 540 students at Dearborn hit the floor and huddled under their desks at 10:20 a.m., when an announcement that the quake had hit came over the public-address system. Most of the kids quietly evacuated to their designated location on the school blacktop, although 20 realistically made up as casualties remained behind to be found and triaged by first-responders. Their radios chattering with reports of damage from across the city, firefighters also had to deal with a fire in a classroom and a hazardous materials cleanup in the school’s science lab.
The exercise was filmed by MySafe: LA, the education arm of the Fire Department, and will be shown to schools and first-responders during training exercises. The full-scale drill also spotlighted what procedures could be improved – where more personnel were needed, for example, and how communication could be better.
“We want to show our kids not to be afraid, but to educate them,” Dearborn Principal Kim Estrada said, adding that lessons on seismic activity are included in the school’s math and science curriculum.
School Board Member Scott Schmerelson encouraged parents to update their child’s emergency contact forms with relatives, friends and neighbors who could pick up a student at school if the parents are unable to get there.
“The school will not release a child to anyone who isn’t listed on the contact card or who cannot show ID when they arrive to pick up the student,” Schmerelson cautioned.
Officials used the Shakeout to urge the public to prepare for a natural disaster. Chris Nance from the California Earthquake Authority talked about the importance of getting earthquake insurance and of retrofitting homes.
David Barrett, executive officer of MySafe: LA, encouraged families to create an emergency plan and to organize a supply of water, nonperishable food and other necessities in convenient locations – just in case. (Each L.A. Unified school has an emergency bin stocked with water, food and first-aid and sanitation supplies.)
“If you are going to prepare, you are going to survive,” he said. “And if you are going to survive, you are going to recover.”
What looked like a pep rally to the U.S. Marine veteran was actually a launch of the National Math and Science Initiative College and Readiness Program at San Pedro High School. The event marked the first time an L.A. Unified school has been picked for the program.read more
Employees who run parents centers at schools across the northeast San Fernando Valley are receiving trainings in first aid and cardiopulminary resuscitation (CPR) this month as part of a District effort to increase the capacity for saving lives.read more
By Albert Brady Thomas Jefferson Senior High School alumnus “The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running” – Author unknown My life has been filled with many unexpected turns, unavoidable potholes, seemingly insurmountable hills,...read more
Recognizing that finances, culture and language may discourage some Latino students from pursuing a higher education, the U.S. Department of Education has released Graduate! 2.0, a new college planning guide that is geared specifically to Hispanic families.read more
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Isela Lieber, a former English-learner who now teaches English and English as a Second Language at James Monroe High School, was named today by state Superintendent Tom Torlakson as one of five California Teachers of the Year.read more
Students at Thomas Starr King Middle School were treated to a screening of a new teen comedy “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” – and also to a visit by the film’s cast.read more
Technology task force reconvenes focusing on education technology, cyber safety, and the future of teaching and learning
The Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI) task force — a diverse group of teachers, administrators, and community members — met this week for the first time in 2016-17 to reflect on L.A. Unified’s efforts to integrate technology with teaching and learning. Having presented a report to the Board of Education with suggestions for technology infrastructure investments, the group is now meeting quarterly, the conversation shifting toward execution of key technology-based initiatives such as online assessments, learning management systems, and a portal that grants parents with direct and secure access to their students’ information.read more
Dorsey Students Complete College Board Pilot Class. – L.A. Sentinel
Girls Academic Leadership Academy: A Unique Opportunity.– Jewish Journal
West Valley Occupational Center celebrates 50 years. – Los Angeles Daily News
Linked Learning the focus of innovative high school. – Education Writers of America
Music, arts programs at LA schools increasing after years of decline. – Los Angeles Daily News
Coeur d’Alene Elementary: One school’s journey towards instructional excellence. – Cotsen Foundation
Student identity through the arts. Huffington Post
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