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By Tanya M. C. Mediola

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (October 31, 2001 - Pacific Daily News)---Children at C. L. Taitano Elementary School know what to do during an earthquake: stop, drop and cover.

That's exactly what dozens of the students did yesterday in the Sinajana school's cafeteria during an earthquake preparedness orientation led by first-grade teacher Diana Johnston, a certified trainer with the American Red Cross.

Johnston yelled, "earthquake," and dozens of students dropped to the ground, scrambled underneath tables, curled up as tightly as they could and covered their heads with their hands.

The training is in response to the 7.0-magnitude temblor on Oct. 13 and is part of Johnston's professional development goals, a component of a teacher's annual evaluation.

"The reason we are here today is so we know what to do in the event that an earthquake happens during school," Johnston told the students.

The Sinajana campus is no stranger to the destruction caused by temblors. In 1999, the governor declared a state of emergency and a portion of the more than 40-year-old school was condemned after chunks of concrete started falling from ceilings, two weeks after a temblor rocked the island. The elementary school has held double sessions and still awaits the completion of new facilities.

More recently, the Oct. 13 quake damaged some Jose Rios Middle School facilities. Officials decided that several students would have to be transferred to another school site. More than 200 students from the Piti school are expected to begin classes today at Southern High School in Santa Rita.

The training at C. L. Taitano began Oct. 23 when children in Head Start through second grade went through the orientation and concluded yesterday with fourth- through fifth-graders.

The elementary school's more than 500 pupils, close to 60 teachers and estimated 20 staff members participated in the training, said Michelle Aguigui, C. L. Taitano assistant principal.

"We want to ensure that the staff and teachers are all trained in the steps to take if an earthquake occurs during school hours," Aguigui said.

Johnston encouraged teachers to drill students during school hours to see if the children know the proper steps to take to keep safe during quakes.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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