Pierce County students drop, cover and hold on

About 130,000 Pierce County participants register to practice earthquake preparedness

Staff writerOctober 17, 2013 


Hayley Deskins, 6, left, and Luis Beltran, 6, huddle under their desks during earthquake drill at Lake Louise Elementary on Thursday. The students are in Janelle Wood’s first-grade class and took part in a statewide earthquake drill.

LUI KIT WONG — Staff photographer Buy Photo

Two minutes, 17 seconds.

That’s how long it took to empty Lake Louise Elementary School of its 350 students Thursday morning.

The Lakewood school joined others throughout the Clover Park School District and all over Washington during an earthquake drill known as the Great Washington ShakeOut.

It tested students’ abilities to drop to the floor, cover their heads and hold on to their desks — and do it all in silence.

The ShakeOut not only included public and private K-12 schools, but also colleges, businesses, government agencies, first responders and neighborhood organizations. More than 130,000 Pierce County participants were registered at the event website.

Before the drill began at 10:17 a.m., Lake Louise first-grade teacher Janelle Wood prepped her students for what might happen in a real quake.

“If an earthquake happens and the ground is shaking, the windows are rattling and the lights are flickering, what do we do?” she asked students.

The correct answer, as kids heard multiple times Thursday morning: Drop, cover and hold on to your desk. They also learned what to do if they were away from the classroom.

Wood explained that this was all a drill. But she also told them that practicing for the real thing is important.

“I bet the earthquake drill is going to be loud,” one boy said.

His prediction didn’t come true. Teachers told students to keep their voices at “Level Zero.” It’s a concept they’ve practiced since the start of the school year.

And it worked. Students were silent as they gathered on the school lawn. They lined up classroom by classroom, in a pre-designated order. Each teacher held up a green rectangle to show a very pleased Principal Kristi Webster that every student was accounted for.

For many students, this was new.

“It was awesome because it was my first time practicing,” first-grader Jennifer Valasquez said.

Added classmate Monet Moss: “It was fun.”

“I really like how we got to be on ‘Zero Voice,’” first-grader Patrick Rawlings said. “We were very good at that.”

Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635

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