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Would Pinewood Drop Like an Earthquake?

BAILEY HEIT

STAFF WRITER

   In elementary school, students were taught to get under their desks if they felt the ground start to shake. But is that really enough to protect them in the case of a severe earthquake like the 6.0 in Napa?

   According to the San Francisco Bay Area News and CNN, the majority of the 30 district schools had been closed down for damage inspection after the quake. There was no permanent damage in schools specifically, but 7,300 people lost power, almost 200 were injured, and many buildings and roads were cracked or damaged in the Napa area.

   The earthquake brought questions about the safety of Pinewood’s upper campus. Despite Pinewood’s old-looking appearance, upper campus is, in fact, seismically safe if an earthquake like the one in Napa struck Los Altos Hills, according to principal Mark Gardner. When the upper campus was built in the 1970s, the structure was purposefully designed as a sturdy, one level building. The only thing between the classrooms and outside is
the awning.

   “They go overboard with the codes when they build schools. If it says put this much cement in the foundation, they put even more because there is nothing more precious than children,” Gardner said.

   If an earthquake does occur, students and teachers should initially move to the middle of the room. When the teacher feels it is safe enough to leave or if the ceiling is about to collapse, everyone then exits to the field. The school is also prepared in the case that students or faculty are forced to spend a couple days in school. Located behind the tennis courts are bins stocked with first aid supplies, battery radios, water barrels, blankets, 3,000 calorie crackers, and more that can sustain the student body for up to three days. The county sheriff and other companies are also within reach. Lastly, the school has a system that can send a message to all Pinewood parents’ phones.

   Even the most dangerous of classrooms have been accounted for. With the numerous toxic chemicals and glass beakers, the chemistry room must be given special attention. Chemistry teacher Sabra Abraham has locked the cabinets of hazardous chemicals, chained the gas tanks to the wall, and organized chemicals by how they react with each other to ensure no explosions would take place.

   In 1989, Pinewood experienced its first big earthquake. Even with the World Series being postponed and an estimated $6 billion in damage throughout the bay area, there was fortunately no serious damage on campus. School was dismissed the day after just to be sure everything in the area was in acceptable condition.

   “We haven’t done anything further from this recent earthquake because we have felt like we have been doing things since 1989 and even before that we did things to try to make sure everything was safe,” Gardner said. “From the time it was originally built it was overly built so it is very strong,
very sturdy.”

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