With a crisply executed demonstration of the old "duck and cover," about 1,000 students from Noble Avenue Elementary School slipped under their desks and helped the Governor's Office of Emergency Services kick off an earthquake safety campaign Tuesday morning.
The event--titled "Ready to Ride It Out?"--marked the beginning of California Earthquake Preparedness Month and included the participation of Los Angeles Unified School District officials and the Los Angeles County Fire Department, who brought along an earthquake simulator to give students a feel for the real thing.
Noble was selected to represent the district because of the excellence of its safety programs, said Gene McCallum, cluster administrator for the LAUSD.
"Noble's emergency plan is one of the best in this district, if not the nation," McCallum said.
"I take pride that our staff is committed to this," said Noble Principal Selma Sullivan. "It's a continuous thing we do. We realize the seriousness and that you can't practice enough."
After getting the go-ahead, students quietly filed out of their classrooms and sat in orderly lines on the playground.
Teachers quickly counted heads and distributed name tags and puzzles to keep the children occupied. Elsewhere on the playground, a command center and first-aid area were hastily assembled.
After the drill, some students experienced Yogi Bear's Quakey-Shakey School House, an earthquake simulator built on the bed of a large truck that was made to look like a classroom.
"We try to make it a fun thing with a serious note," said Jack Raby, a teacher who was hired by the Fire Department to be an instructor on the simulator. "I think it does somewhat lay to rest kids' anxieties about earthquakes."
Fourth-grader Jose Esquivel, 9, who recalled his fright during the 1994 Northridge earthquake, descended the simulator steps with a broad smile on his face.
"That wasn't scary, that was fun," he said. "We learned how to be safe. When there's an earthquake, you have to go down on the floor so you won't get hurt."