Alvarado Middle School teachers and students on Tuesday took part in The Great ShakeOut, joining thousands of Bay Area students and more than 14 million people worldwide who participated in earthquake preparedness drills this week.

Students at the Union City school learned about the importance of preparing a disaster kit and how to protect themselves during an earthquake and other natural disasters, New Haven school district spokesman Rick LaPlante said.

The Great ShakeOut is sponsored by a consortium of national, state and local agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Geological Survey and the California Earthquake Authority, said Mark Benthien, executive director of Earthquake Country Alliance, a California organization that provides earthquake information and services.

The majority of students worldwide participated Thursday morning, as the annual event usually is scheduled on the third Thursday of October. However, some campuses such as Alvarado Middle School in Union City, chose to hold their earthquake preparedness sessions on a different day.

"We allow schools to register their drills two weeks before or after the scheduled ShakeOut date, in case that specific October date doesn't work for them," Benthien said. "We try to be flexible."

New Haven board votes to try to sell closed Union City school

The New Haven Board of Education on Tuesday voted to begin the process of selling the property that formerly housed Cabello Elementary School, district spokesman LaPlante said.


Advertisement

The Union City school, closed since 2007, will be sold to offset the cash-strapped district's ongoing budget woes, which have been caused by continuing state cuts to the education budget, LaPlante said.

Selling the site at 4500 Cabello St. would generate at least $10 million for the district, said Akur Varadarajan, New Haven's chief business officer.

The five-member board cast their vote after a district advisory committee -- comprised of local residents, parents, businesspeople and city officials -- recommended the Cabello campus be sold.

Board members also approved the committee's recommendation to delay a decision whether to sell the Educational Services Center at 34009 Alvarado-Niles Road, which houses the New Haven district office.

The committee was not convinced that potential proceeds would justify selling that site, Varadarajan said.

Hayward school adds robotics program

Robotics was only introduced to Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School last year, but the students already are competing in a robotics league, and most recently, demonstrated how they have programmed their two robots at Science in the Park, a daylong science festival held earlier this month in Hayward.

While many affluent school districts have robotics teams, "we are the only middle school in Hayward that has one," said Estella Santos, King Middle School principal.

The school received a grant from the Hayward Education Foundation for a robot and purchased a second one with money raised through fundraising.

"We have a brand-new team, and we're competing against some very seasoned teams. Our kids go out there and give it their best, and they have been improving their scores each time," Santos said. She added that she is encouraged that girls are on the robotics team.

Santos says the program teaches higher math, computer programming, technology, teamwork and creativity and, all the while, the students are having fun.

"It's very exciting," she said. "The kids came to me and said, 'Finally, Ms. Santos, a club for nerds!' "