ABOVE: Students and staff at Holualoa Elementary School meet outside on the field during the Great Hawaii ShakeOut, a statewide earthquake preparedness drill, on Wednesday. TOP: Holualoa Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Adrianne Hale, right, joins student Cheyenne Leanio Phillips under a desk to practice “Drop! Cover! Hold On!” during the Great Hawaii ShakeOut. photos by Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Students in Adrianne Hale’s fourth-grade class at Holualoa Elementary School practice “Drop! Cover! Hold On!” during the Great Hawaii ShakeOut, a statewide earthquake preparedness drill, on Wednesday. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Holualoa Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Adrianne Hale, right, joins student Cheyenne Leanio Phillips under a desk to practice “Drop! Cover! Hold On!” Wednesday during the Great Hawaii ShakeOut, a statewide earthquake preparedness drill. ( photos by Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Holualoa Elementary School robotics team members David Kimball, Gabe Harris, Jasmine Wong, Kai Koch and Kailey Fediuk have been learning about natural disasters with teacher Adrianne Hale in preparation for an upcoming competition. The team inspired the school to participate in the Great Hawaii ShakeOut.
“When the earth starts to rumble and crumble, you got to drop, cover and hold.”
That’s the rap Holualoa Elementary School students in classrooms and hallways have been singing this week.
More than catchy and cool, the rap teaches actions proved to reduce injury in an earthquake. It was created by the school’s robotics team to help students remember the lifesaving information in “a fun and original way,” said fifth-grader Kailey Fediuk.
The rap was also part of an effort to put earthquake preparedness in the spotlight.
Over the past couple of months, the robotics team has been preparing for the upcoming FIRST LEGO League Nature’s Fury Challenge, which requires them to present creative solutions to natural disasters. The team split into two groups, one tackling tsunamis and the other studying earthquakes. For weeks, the latter group has explored what causes earthquakes, how they are monitored and what appropriate steps can be taken to reduce risks.
Guest speakers, including David Carvalho from the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes, have given them even more insight. Carvalho also told the students about The Great Hawaii ShakeOut, a voluntary earthquake preparedness drill. It’s an opportunity to learn what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
The robotics team members decided to inspire their school to participate in the drill because “it’s always good to plan and practice in case of the real thing,” Fediuk said. The students shared information during an assembly, performed their rap, and made posters about the Great Hawaii ShakeOut. The student-led effort was met with great enthusiasm and support.
At the ringing of a bell Wednesday, more than 500 Holualoa Elementary students and staff members dropped out of their desks and scooted underneath to protect their heads. In Adrianne Hale’s class, 23 fourth-graders took cover without hesitation. They stayed there for at least two minutes, waiting for the ringing to stop. No one was frightened or worried – they knew they were participating in a fake earthquake scenario.
The tone in the room was mostly serious, though giggles could be occasionally heard. While the drill seemed funny at times, 10-year-old Ethan Carvalho said a real earthquake would not be a laughing matter. He reflected on the powerful 2006 Kiholo Bay earthquakes, saying how scary and strange it was watching rock walls fall apart.
Just minutes before the drill, Hale asked how many students remembered those magnitude-6.7 and 6.0 earthquakes, which caused $200 million in damages on the Big Island and Maui, as well as an extended power outage on Oahu. Fortunately, she added, those earthquakes and a series of aftershocks roiled on a Sunday. Thirteen students, who would have been toddlers at the time, promptly raised their hands.
Hale and the class discussed the best responses to experiencing an earthquake when in a vehicle, building, outside and even the bathroom. Though we can’t predict earthquakes, Hale stressed we can know what to expect and prepare for that.
Large earthquakes pose an ever-present danger to Hawaii. Since 1868, more than 30 magnitude-6.0 or greater earthquakes have impacted residents throughout the state. The probability that another destructive earthquake, magnitude 6.5 or higher, will strike the Hawaiian Islands in the next decade is 50 percent. The probability increases to 75 percent in the next 20 years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Once the bell ringing ceased, Hale’s class lined up calmly and walked orderly to the basketball court. Other classes did the same thing, walking to their designated clear spots, which were away from buildings, trees and other objects that could be damaged and dangerous in a real earthquake. The drill was a success.
Holualoa Elementary students and staff are among the more than 15,000 participants registered for the Great Hawaii ShakeOut. In Hawaii County, there were 5,317 people scheduled to participate in an earthquake drill this week or next. Many chose to hold their drill on Thursday and it was their choice to determine how extensive the exercise was.
For more information, visit shakeout.org/hawaii.