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Students in our middle school and high school wrote stories, articles, editorials, and research pieces after we experienced the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011. We believe that writing and sharing writing helps people to deal with crisis situations. We hope you appreciate the stories that we have shared.

My earthquake story
by Lucinda

Dear dairy,

Today is the 11th of March 2011 and it was free dress, Ancient Greece, and I was dressed as Medousa. I was at school and my friend Sophie and I were at our classroom waiting for the rest of the class to get to arrive. We were waiting and waiting. My teacher Miss Fish was on the computer. Now there was some of our class here but we were still waiting for others. Then Miss Fish said, “There must be an earthquake because my computer is shacking.” As she said that my other friend Sooa was walking in and she hear the word EARTHQUAKE. She then started to scream down the hall saying “EARTHQUAKE! THERE IS A REAL EARTHQUAKE!” But then I shouted back at her saying “Sooa it is only going to be a small one.” Then as Miss Fish was looking on her iPhone to see how strong the earthquake was the school started to sway. Some kids were still walking to their next classroom. Sophie and I went under the desks. I was next to Amy but she wasn’t very comfortable. She had rushed under the desk sitting in an awkward position. She had her right leg over her left and her right hand on her right leg. Anyway all I could hear was the sound of screaming and rattling. Then it was all silent all you could hear then was all the rattling the school was making. After about 3minutes it stopped but it felt like 15 minutes. When the school stopped swaying the evacuation bells sounded and all of the school went to the carpark area. When I left the classroom I was holding Amy by the arm. When I was coming down the hall I saw my dad out in the crowd. I just remembered it was the time my sister finished school so that meant that my dad was here the whole time. I could see that my sister was crying. My class was in a straight line. I was at the back of the line. The person in front of me was crying and that made me start to cry. Then Miss Fish came and hugged us and that made us stop crying. Then there was an announcement about a high schooler missing and her friend shouted out answer to some questions the principle asked. The friend said that the missing girl had left early. After that there was another announcement that said “Can all parents take their children home and if your parents are not here just stay where you are.” So my dad took my sister and I back home. All the way home my dad seemed upset but I don’t know why. My sister and I were that the back of the car, each hugging our legs together. My dad was trying to call my mum but the phones were out. When we arrived at home the boys in the street were outside with their helmets on. My sister and I ran inside as fast as we could. I went on the computer and tried to call my call on Skype and it worked. I was so happy. Me and my mum talked and I asked her “What time are you coming home?” and she said, “I need to wait and see when it will be safe to leave the building”. My mother was on the 21st floor of an office building. She Skyped again later to say
“Tell dad to pick me up at 6:00.” Six o’clock in the afternoon came and I told my dad and he set off. It was soon 8:00 and my dad was still not home so I called. Then 10:00 came and they were still not home and I still had not had dinner. Then 11:30 came and then the doorbell rang it was my mum and dad, they were finally home. “YEH!” I shouted. I give them both a great big hug. Then I had diner and went to bed.
The next morning I woke up and went down stairs. It looked like nothing had ever happened.

Well that is all for now.

The earthquake
By Erika
“Erika do you feel that?” my mom said in worry, panic, and concern.
It was in earthquake. I am going to be completely honest with you. I wasn’t scared….. At first. I studied earthquake in 4th grade, and one thing I learned while we were learning about earthquakes was that Japan is made to withstand earthquakes. Though no matter how many times I told my mom before this earthquake occurred she was freaking out.
“It’s big, it’s big, people are coming out of the building, it’s shaking big, people are coming out, oh they are by the window….” My mom said repeatedly.
“Mommy, we are in the car, we are totally safe.” I said even though I didn’t really know if a car was safe during an earthquake.
“It’s big, it’s really big, and you normally don’t feel earthquakes when you are in the car.” My mom said with her heart racing
“Well,” I said taking before I knew what I was going to say, wait, no, now I know, “that’s because we were at a complete stop.”
“You still normally don’t feel it in the car even if you were at a stop.”
Now I don’t know what to say, maybe know, just know, I’m a tad scared, but just a tad.
Oh, forgot to tell you, when this natural disaster happened I was in the car to pick up Andrew, my 4 year old bother, from school. Now I know what you’re thinking, aren’t you supposed to be in school? Well, just let me tell you the story sister, I had early dismissal for violin. Now look who looks silly.
Changing the subject I said, “Andrew is probably freaking out right now, when we get to school I’ll rush up to get him.” Okay, so maybe I didn’t do such a great job of changing the subject.
When we got to school I rushed up the hill, or was about to. My mom dropped me off to pick up Andrew on the road to the school, so I didn’t see the school until I got there, neither did my mom. Anyway, when I was there this is what I saw. Everyone at school in yellow helmets. Oh, great I thought to myself. You wondering why? I’ll tell you why, because only a few people knew I had early dismissal and I don’t want people to think I ditched school. So I decided to sneak behind everyone.
While I was sneaking Scarlett saw me, she waved. “Shoot,” I said to myself, “Urrrrggggg….” Then I gave a fake and fast grin to Scarlett. So much for nobody seeing me.
“Andrew!!!” I said once the little boy was in sight. I ran over and gave him a hug. He didn’t push away like usual, which probably means he is scared.
“The classroom was shaking, we sang old McDonald.” Andrew said surprisingly happy. So much for freaking out.
I didn’t let go of Andrew. You see, everyone in our family can probably take care of themselves in a situation like this, except Andrew. If he’s safe, then we are all safe. Sort of.
After a few minutes, that felt longer then they really were, my mom showed up in her car. Before you know it, I and Andrew were being shooed in the car. Once we were in the car, a kindergarten teacher that I don’t know the name of took our helmets. Andrew liked his “special” yellow helmet and didn’t want to take it off. But he did, eventually.
Mr. Jeremic started to get my mom our of the parking lot. But my mom told him, “I don’t have all my kids.”
Mr. Jeremic ask, “What’s her name?”
“Which grade?”
“Which class?”
“I think its seven K”
In the snap of a thumb Emma was with us in the car, and we headed off the school grounds.
The drive home normally takes 20 minutes max. But this time it took an hour. It felt longer because I was starting to get scared and my mom didn’t have her phone with her so our dad was probably calling us and because we weren’t answering he was getting nervous. The drive home was even longer also because Andrew had to go pee so we had to pull over so Emma and Andrew ran inside a convenient store to “go” and because we used their bathroom, we bought mento’s. The drive home was long, way worse than previews at a movie theater long. Yup, it was that bad.
When we got home I rushed to my mom’s computer –I rushed to my mom’s because Emma already took ours- going onto Gmail hoping somebody would be on there, somebody I could talk to, so I could check if people were okay, if anybody needed any help, somebody I could talk things through with.
Thankfully, there was. Yuka, known as amazing student, very nice friend, and knows just about anything. For me, also known as my friend that lives around the corner.
I and Yuka chatted from about 4:00-11:00. Sure there were a few little gabs but we spent ALOT of time chatting with each other on Gmail. Checking if each other was okay, talking about the things we put by the door if we have to make a quick getaway, about our dad’s not being with us and my dad having to walk home, what we were seeing on the news, how are family was, letting each other know that if they need anything just let us know, and how other people were. Talking things out with Yuka made me feel better. It was nice getting to let my thoughts out to a trustworthy friend, especially when my sister is on Facebook and watching videos on youtube.
During this time is when I got REALLY scared. Watching deadly clips on the news was terrifying. Well, if you would excuse me, we are going to fast forward to when I got home and what we found out about my dad’s situation.
When we got home my mom got our 72 hour kits, (backpacks full of stuff that could help us in case of an emergency that we prepared a year ago) passports, money, and my violin. Mommy said I should keep my phone with me, though Emma couldn’t because her phone was with the rest of her stuff, at school. My mom also checked her phone to see if our dad called, and if he was okay. Apparently, phones weren’t working, but we got in contact with my dad through email. My dad said now that he knows his first priority (his family) is okay, he is going to make sure everyone at work is okay and that he will probably get home late.
Now we are going to fast forward to when it’s night.
“Erika, Emma, you should go to sleep, though stay in your casual clothes just in case.” My mom said trying to sound as calm as possible.
I went upstairs and tried to go to sleep. Tried. I just couldn’t, I mean who could. Luckily, I soon heard the heavy front door open. Daddy’s back.
I jumped out of my bed and went down the stairs in only 3 steps.
“Daddy!!!!!” I screamed the whole way down and when I jumped into my dad’s arms. He caught me, he always catches me.
It seemed I was more worried about my dad then the earthquake or tsunami.
When my dad got back my mom threw something together that my dad could eat then we all watched the news as a family minus Andrew because he was asleep.
After we watched the news I went to bed. I went to bed much easier this time. Sure I slept in my casual clothes and with my phone in my phone case around my neck. But I could sleep this time, my family was together, and just like my mom said during the car ride home, “If we have to die, she wants us all to die together, as a family.”
My family is the most important thing to me. Now that I have my family, doesn’t matter what happens.

Amy M.

Dear Diary,

The day of the evil earthquake was my Auntie’s birthday! (^U^)-to-(T_T) There were tsunamis, fires, nuclear factory explosions, aftershocks and planned power cuts. Actually, our area has not had a single power cut for the whole time, which is good for us, but I still think the people who are in trouble should at least have electricity power instead of us, since that area is cold but our place is warm enough..

Everything is a complete disaster here, but even I am better off where I live, than all the people who lost there homes and families and are staying at evacuation centres. I feel so sorry for them “(+A+)”

I was at school at the time, and the bell had just rung for us to go back for homeroom. My friends and I were waiting for the rest of the class to come back. It was 2:46, when the building started to shake! Then it began to get incredibly scary, and Ms. Fish told everyone to go under the tables. Water bottles and pencil cases actually fell off the desks! The earthquake lasted for about 5 mins. (a long time) When it stopped, the alarm went off and we put on our helmets and went outside. (X0X)!

The problem was, that night was Bingo night and the car park was crowded with cars. It was a great fuss to get them all out to make space outside for the school. Also, people where dressed up as Greeks for Bingo, so everyone was shivering in their sandals and tunics! People were crying and even throwing up, so Sophie and I did an earthquake fashion show to cheer them up. (=*U*=)

Afterwards, my friend Lucinda was holding my arm very tightly and she was saying how she wanted to go back to Singapore.

My friend Sophie also told me later that even when the earthquake had stopped, the “Midori Anzenn” building (The M building) was still swaying! “It was soooo cool!” she said. Luckily, we got blankets and first-aid sheets, and I wasn’t going to Bingo so I was in my warm uniform. We also got biscuits and brownies.

For about 3 hours, I sat around outside and sat around inside, all the while trying to contact my mother. I live over an hour away on the train from my school, and all the available trains were closed, so I was in big trouble.. When at last, my mother got contact with me on my phone! You see, the phone lines were unbelievably crowded, and it was practically a miracle. My mother told me that someone was going to pick me up.

And soon enough, my Auntie who lives nearby my school came on her bicycle. The taxis were full up, so I walked all the way back to her house. It took us over 1 hour, but we were chatting a lot so it was quite short! I saw tons of people walking relentlessly around me, and it wasn’t even that surprising to hear that some people took over 9 hours to walk back home! I stayed at my Auntie’s house for the night. The next day, I met my mother at a station on the way back home.

I was much better off than many people who had such a hard time and are still having a hard time, but I feel jealous of the people like my old friends and my grandparents who live in England! They are the luckiest of all to not have to experience a single earthquake in their whole life!! Even now there are planned power cuts, dangerous radioactivity and aftershocks all over the country. It must have been the absolute worst day anyone in the country had ever experienced.

An annoying thing about the earthquake is that there are never ending commercials from AC Japan that drive me NUTS.. #(>w<;)#AAAAARGH! I hate the one with the song about greeting people, and the one when a lady keeps talking about cancer.

I remember this as 3.11, not 9.11.

Crying, Praying and Memories Back Alive

Ashita K.

March 11th, 2011, the most terrifying, blood – curdling and spine – chilling day of my life. It started like a bad day does. Like an ordinary day. I had my typical lessons which were Japanese, Social Studies, Math, Break, Drama, Drama, Lunch, Library, English and then Homeroom.

Although, Homeroom was a bit divergent. When me and my friends were prattling and giggling, my friend Amrutha screamed “Guys, Earthquake!”

I stood there to actually sense it to see if it is real. It was. I actually felt it. The floor beneath my feet jerked back and forth. I thought the floor was trying to get rid of me. I had an odd sensation that it was going to be really big and long. We all jerked down and squished ourselves under the desks. Right next to me was a girl named Georgia. She was kind-of disabled but she could walk. I knew that she had some disease and had to get 3 surgeries in her life. Poor Georgia! That’s why she limped. She’s not really my friend but I can talk to her. At that moment, I wanted a friend to sit beside me, giving me comfort and encouragement. Anyways, I am a kind person (or that’s what I think) so I had to say something to her.

“I really think it is kind of like the earthquake in New Zealand a few weeks ago.”

“It feels like a roller coaster to me,” she said.

Yup, sure did. I felt like I was on SpaceMountain in Disneyland (comparing to the turbulence of the quake).

After that, we quickly evacuated the building after getting our helmets. We all stood by the bicycle parking of our school. We were all waiting for the quake to stop. Everyone was crying or praying. Damin, Hinano and I were all making jokes to try and cheer other people up. Amrutha said "Ashita, can you hold my hand. Hold it really tightly." "Okay." I did. It kind-of also made me feel safe. Just then, Mrs. Griffiths, the middle school principal made an announcement.

"Girls, just so you know the subways are all stopped and the network is not working so you cannot go home by yourself. Also, all the roads are jammed."

Oh My Gosh, what am I going to do if my parents are not going to come? I know they're not going to come because my mom is busy with my little sister Ashmi who is just 9 months old and my dad is at office which is 8 kms from school. Surely, he's not going to walk here or stay in a taxi in a traffic jam. I guess I'll sleep at school, I thought.

Just then, I thought I would cry. My eyes were filled with tears. Any second, I would burst out crying. I tried to hold back my tears but they kept on coming back. My life came before my eyes. I tried to remember the good memories I had. I thought of my mom, dad and especially my sister. Oh God, why did this have to happen?

At that moment, a parent association member passed out some blankets. We all wrapped ourselves in it. It was so much warmer and comfier.

Since that night was supposed to be Bingo Night, a big fundraiser of our school, lots of parents were already there when the quake hit, including my friend's mom who asked Ms. T our homeroom teacher if I could go with her, but Ms. Teacher refused and said only the parents can take their children. That’s when the first aftershock hit. It was big as well.

After most of the students went, we were allowed to go back to our lockers and get our bags and what we need to enter our house, so I took my bag and my cell phone. My bag never felt so light before.

Soon, they said that the building was safe and that we could stay in the AV Room. It was very crowded after everyone sat. The only people in 6th grade left were: Swarali, Joy, Karin, Linda, Anju, Kana, Megu, Reona, Ellen, Darya and me. We were all talking. I actually kind of felt it was the school sleepover we had last year but instead it wasn't planned. After that,

The teacher said we could get some pizza if we are hungry. Well, I was starving, so I got some pizza. Swarali and I shared a plate because they were running short of them. I ate my pizza happily. Afterwards, we kept on talking. I was kind of sleepy so I lay down and went to sleep. I didn't get into deep sleep but I slept. Then, when I got up again, we went downstairs to the cafeteria to get some falafels, and treats. I got a falafel and bunch of chocolates and brownies. I felt like I was the happiest person in this whole world.

Suddenly, Ms. Mehta called my name because there was a phone call for me. I was so happy. I ran to the reception to receive my call. It was from my mom to say she was safe and that my dad is walking to my school. I was totally surprised. Then, I said I was okay too and that she doesn't need to worry. Afterwards, I returned to my friends. 1 minute later, my dad reached. I was so happy.

Swarali said “See, I said you won't be the last one to go."

Oh well, she was right. I took my stuff and went to my dad. We then went to the couches to decide what to do. We weren't sure if we should stay here or walk home because surely I wasn't going to walk home. Eventually, though, I gave up and we started home. We passed Roppongi, then Ginza and then Tsukiji. By the time we reached Tsukiji I was exhausted. We still had 1 km left. This was a big achievement for me. We then reached our home. Guess what? We had to go 9 floors by stairs because the elevators were stopped.

All of the Indians were gathered in the lobby. When we went to the concierge and we asked them if my mom left us a message, they said yes and passed to us a white piece of paper which said she was at a friends house and told a phone no. We called her and she said she would come downstairs to our house, while we climbed up the stairs.

When I saw her, I was so happy. We then went home and turned on the TV. I was examining the house for any broken items but fortunately a few CDs fell and they didn't break. Phew! As we were watching the news, we realized a huge tsunami had hit a city in Northeastern Japan called Sendai. I was astonished to see how houses swept away not only cars but houses and people. I now realize how powerful Mother Earth is. Thanks to Japanese technology not a lot of damage was done.

Jane.K's earthquake story

I was about to go out from the pottery room.

" Hurry! come with me!" said Mr.Tootell. I followed him to the other door. The lamp and our pottery was shaking. But how? There was no siren that it is earthquake.

"This is earthquake, This is earthquake!" I was scared. I looked at Yoonjae. Yoonjae was also seems scared.

When I went out of the room, many high school girl was screaming. It shacked a lot. High schooler who was wearing the high hills was even shitting down. Yoonjae, Mr.Tootell, me and other girls hold hand. We was all cold and worried. We sat down on the ground. I could see other girls who went faster to homeroom and other girls in Art. We get all together. There is Ms.Fish. We all ran to Ms. Fish. She told us to line-up in Alphabetical order. I look back. There was my back. Luna was crying. After I saw Luna, I also wanted to cry. I was I worried of my mother, because she can' speak Japanese. She can't probably don't know anything even they announce something.

"From now, we can go back to the building, and pack our bag quickly," Mrs.Griffiths announced. HIgh school went in first, and i think it was 7th grade, 6th grade, and 5th grade. I went in and pack homework folder, glasses, pencil case, dictionary wallet, and my phone. I also take out my jacket, because I was cold when I was out side. I came out.

Some of the teacher gave us a blankets to share. I shared with Yoonjae, and Jieun. It was warm.

'Ring, ring," my phone rang. there was message from my dad. It said, ' Jane, I will be there soon. Wait with your friends.' While I was checking the message, Yoonjae and Jieun left together. only Amy, Ciara, and Karina. I was kind of scare.

After two hours, my father was still not here. Me and Karina was only left 5th grade. I was scared. It's been 3hours to be at school after earthquake.

"Julia in grade11. Your dad is here!" Ms.Mehta shout out.

"yaaaaa! Hoooo!" Other high school girls was cheer that girl. She's sooooooooooooo lucky. I want to go out of here and go my house. Of coarse I kind of feel sorry to leave Karina alone, but still I want to go home! Why my father is not coming…. I really really really really really wants to go home! Somebody! Please take me to my home! Please!

"Jane Kim your up!"

' Wait, me? Me?'

"Jane come on!"

It is me! It's me! There is my father! I get my bag and ran to him. I didn't forget to say bye to Karina.

"Bye Jane," Mr. Martindale said to me. I nodded and went out of school with my father. When I went out many people was wearing helmet on the street.

We try to catch taxi to go back home, but there was sooooo many cars, but no taxi.I have to go to back to my house! I can't walk from here to my house! It will take take forever.

Ring, ring. It was my phone, and there was mail from my mom.

" Jane! Wait there. I'm going to your school by car. Wait with father." Yayyyyyyyyy! We just have to wait! Ring, ring.

" It might take 1 hours. Wait in father's company." I told father about the messages from mother. My father agreed with me, but we have to walk 10 minutes. Oh no! I'm already tired. But I have to.

I was so tired, so we arrived 5 minutes later then our guessing.

After 40minutes waiting at my father's company, there was my mom! "Mom!"

Other looks... and earthquake legends by Damin K.

Earthquakes experiment.

Today I had a terrible day in Japan.
Today was the day when the big earthquake happened.
It was just before the 8th period and I was putting my English book in my locker and heading down to the math room for homeroom period. However, I was in a emergency and need to rush down to the toilet.
Just then Mrs. Ofstedal yelled at me, “There is a big earthquake coming. Go down the desk.” while she tell Anju, Karen, and Hinano. At first, I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I predict that she meant the bell rung. So I tried to rush down the stairs but Ms. Ofstedal yanked me to 6T room and pushed me hard under the desk.
But only word in my head was the word BATHROOM.
Hinano was next to me and I told her what Mrs. Ofstedal had done to me.
Then she starts laughing. Right then the building start shaking very hard.
I felt a little scared. Some of my friend who was in 6T room starts yelling and crying.
While then, Hinano and I was chatting about where my mom and my brother was; and they were in Tokyo Disney Land. Then, Ms. T, our homeroom teacher, came in and asks us if we are okay.
“Ms. T, can I go to bathroom? I am in emergency.” I asked.
“No Damin. Whatever happens, you need to be here.” she replied.
After few minutes, Ms. Griffithes announced that we should wear a helmet and evacuate to the outside.
So we went downstairs to get helmet but the helmet ran out, so eventually I went outside without an helmet.
While I go down the stairs, I saw many things had fallen off.
I felt scared.
I mean really scared. Then suddenly, I realized that my eyes were filled with tears.
I quickly wiped off the tears and cheer up the others.
So I start telling jokes and acted normal.
But still I was very scared.

Earthquake Chronicle by Mei M. (8) Click Here:

“What will happen to Japan when the nuclear power plant melts down?” by Hikari S. (8) Click here:

"The Causes/Effects of the Nuclear Power Plant Accident" by Mayako S. (8) Click here:

"What are the effects of nuclear radiation on the human body?" by Maya M. (8) Click here:

The Overnight Experience

Nikita N. (grade 10)

Note: The following editorial will also be published in a pending edition of The International, our high school's student newspaper

On March 11, nobody in ISSH imagined that there would be an earthquake, completely disrupting the long awaited weekend. Instead of preparing for Bingo Night, drinking a grand-size frappucino at Starbucks, or catching some desperately needed sleep, students had to stay at school for hours until their parents picked them up. Wrapped in emergency blankets and heads covered in yellow helmets, students huddled together in small groups, anxiously waiting to hear the teachers call them and say, “Your parents are here. You can go home.” Some people stayed overnight at school, due to the cancellation of metro lines and the impossible traffic on the roads of Tokyo.

One would think it was an uncomfortable night for them, separated from their families and trapped in a dauntingly large AV room that kept trembling every few moments. But after hearing that the earthquake hadn’t done much damage to Tokyo, the students who stayed overnight made the best out of the worst. Some treated the whole experience almost like a sleepover. “There was good food, teachers were there to help, the room was kept warm, and I had a friend with me to talk and play games with,” says Erika (9). ISSH has safety plans for natural disasters, which meant that everything ran smoothly and without chaos. The presence of the calm, optimistic teaching staff reduced the students’ anxieties. “The teachers are very well-trained in knowing what to do in case of an emergency,” says Ms. Young. The teachers also kept the students updated on the magnitudes of big aftershocks, casualties, and public transportation schedules. A movie, Shrek, was shown in hopes of livening up the almost too calm and rather dull atmosphere in the AV room. The dialogues between Shrek and Donkey drew regular chuckles from the audience, even during heart-quickening aftershocks. Nobody fretted or worried too much—schools are the best place to be during natural disasters, since they are stocked with food, shelters, blankets, and capable teachers willing to sacrifice their time.

But even order and optimism could not make the students’ experience a perfect dream. On several occasions, students in the AV Room were told to drop everything and immediately evacuate to the car park. Rumors of tsunamis and earthquakes circulated around the shivering students. “I was rather confused at the time,” says Reina (10). “I didn’t know what to do when we had to evacuate, or what to take.” Even inside the warm AV room, students were plagued with thoughts of their families. Contacting parents or siblings through the uncooperative network was out of the question. Students tried to have fun with their friends while simultaneously hitting speed dial on cell phones, hoping to hear that comforting “Hello?” on the other end. At night, students slept in their jackets, helmets, and shoes, since there was a good possibility of another evacuation during the night. Frequent aftershocks kept rudely awakening the light sleepers in the room.

By the next morning, five girls were still at school. They were woken up around 6:30 am, and handed juice cartons, fresh onigiris, and soup made by the kitchen staff. The trains had started again, so the girls were able to return home. Once outside, it was evident that the earthquake had left very few traces in Tokyo. “Even the trains and the traffic were back to normal, and I got home in the same amount of time I usually do,” says Miki (9).

But after reaching home and hugging their families, the students switched on the televisions. “The things shown on TV, like the tsunamis and burning buildings, made me recognize how bad the situation was,” says Erika (9). All over Facebook, there were statuses such as, “Couldn’t sleep a wink,” or “That was the scariest experience of my life,” but in reality, our experience was not the biggest story. Never in my life had I felt so lucky to have been at school, my life perfectly safe between the PE mat and an unfamiliar blanket.


By: Sanskriti M. (11)

Note: This opinion piece will appear in a pending edition of The International, the high school's student newspaper.

This 9.0 magnitude catastrophic earthquake shook the Japanese citizens along with ISSH students. Making a lively country ghostly. At 2:45pm, ISSH high school students had finished attending the 2011 Talent Show, and were dismissed for the day. Minutes after the bell rang, ISSH juniors were in their best moods. After all, it was a week to spring break! Our exuberant behaviour soon turned woeful. Within the next minute our school building shook violently, the deadly earthquake killed, injured, and orphaned thousands in Sendai, Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, which are located in the east coast of Japan.

Who thought the country known for its development and advanced technology, would have shortages of food and power? Or would have to deal with so much loss? Within a few months, the infrastructure will be repaired, the nuclear plants will be replaced, food sources will become abundant once again, but the countless lives lost will never come back. In places like Sendai and Miyagi, the earthquake swept away bodies into the ocean within seconds. Many will never be recovered. This quake has left a strong painful impact and agonizing repercussions on Japanese citizens.

Whenever we held earthquake or fire drills in ISSH, all of us found them tiring, annoying, and redundant. But on March 11, we saw, we felt, and we knew that these drills were necessary, and that it was important for us to behave, be quiet, and listen to instructions. We were thankful that we had practiced drills before, so that we knew where to go and what to do. After this quake, we also realized the faults in our drills, such as not having enough accessible helmets or microphones that were not loud enough. The evening of this quake, we, ISSH students, were terrified. Many of us were not able to get in contact with our parents, and many were frightened for their families and also themselves. With the guidance of teachers, and assistance of each other students, all ISSH members were safe, and were given aluminium blankets, food, and gym mats for the night.

Reminiscing about this event makes people melancholic, panicked, and angry. This earthquake did not affect Tokyo as gravely as prefectures such as Miyagi, Sendai, and Fukushima, but watching the news, all of know how many lives were destroyed and in what way. Thanks to Tokyo’s strong infrastructure all of us were safe and the earthquake did little damage to Tokyo. It could have been much worse.

At the beginning of the quake all of us, for a second or two, thought and wondered whether this was how our lives would end. While taking cover, hiding under tables, ducking our heads, and tightly holding each other for comfort, we were scared as never before.

We cursed, we prayed, and we told ourselves and each other that we were strong and could get through this. And we did. We were there for one another. We hugged those who needed comfort, wiped tears of those who were weeping, offered food to those to whom we had rarely spoken to, helped those who were anxious and worried, and showed our care and love to everyone near us. For this, I am proud to say I am part of ISSH. The affection we showed one another on March 11 is something that none of us will ever forget.

High Impact

by Momo M. (grade 11)

Note: This article will appear in a pending edition of The International, the high school's student newspaper.

When the clock struck 2:46 PM, our world shifted— literally. The planet Earth’s usually uninterrupted rotation around the sun was disturbed: the earthquake, shifting the planet’s axis by 25 cm, increased the speed of the rotation resulting in shorter years (a loss of 1.8 microseconds a day) due to the redistribution of the Earth’s mass.

Moving in closer, the quake’s geographical impact was immense not only in Japan, but in areas of the world thousands of miles away from the epicenter. According to geophysicist Ross Stein, parts of northeast Japan were pushed towards North America by an approximate of 2.4 meters, stretching out portions of the Honshu Island, making the country’s landmass “wider than before.” In Antarctica, the massive seismic waves were reported to have caused the Whillans Ice Stream to slip by about half a meter. The U.S Geographical Survey reported a number of changes seen in underground water levels in various places within the United States.

The earthquake’s waves of raw power sent ripples through the economy as well; the world’s mineral supply was greatly affected after Japan’s electricity shortage disrupted the country’s iodine refineries­. As the second biggest supplier of iodine, Japan produces roughly 33% of the world total. The shortage in iodine greatly affects the electronic device market around the world, since they are used primarily in liquid-crystal displays for screens along with x-ray contrast media. The four prefectures most affected by the quake and the tsunami (Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki) account for about 8% of the Japan’s GDP. Many factories were left with no other choice than to suspend production; mainly because of the physical damage, or power shortages. Shortly after the disaster, an abrupt and somewhat illogical fear of food and supply shortages emerged in Tokyo and Yokohama; by the time a week had past, the aisles of supermarkets were emptied as long snaking lines of people formed to buy goods such as bottles of water, batteries, instant noodles, and baby diapers.

The quake illuminated both the best and the worst in people around the globe. An estimated amount of 40 million US dollars of were donated by celebrities and major entertainment/fashion companies alone from the US and EU. In Japan, thousands rushed to their local governments, asking to be sent over to areas around the epicenter for any volunteer work. On the contrary, a surge in crime was seen when a number of frauds, all claiming to be collecting donations for earthquake relief, were exposed and followed by a few arrests.

In our ISSH community, when the earthquake hit, all were shaken both physically and emotionally. A few days after the earthquake, the community was seemingly dispersed and scattered across the globe. In the end, almost all members returned, creating a stronger sense of unity acquired through the crisis that we all endured.

Tohoku Earthquake Facts by Lisa K. (10)

Note: This article will appear in a pending edition of The International, the high school's student newspaper.

According to a report published by the British Geological Survey, a natural environment research council, the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that occurred in Japan was the fifth largest in history since 1990.
According to the British Geological Survey, by 6:30 a.m. on March 18, there had been 315 aftershocks greater than magnitude 5; 37 greater than magnitude 6; and one greater than magnitude 7. Aftershocks in Japan could last for months.
According to the Deutsche Welle, a German international broadcaster, the Tohoku earthquake shifted Japan’s main land, Honshu, over two meters to the east. Scientists also say that the earthquake shifted the earth on its rotational axis by almost 17 centimeters.
Change in length of a day:
According to NASA, the earthquake may have shortened the length of day by 1.8 microseconds, because Japan’s earthquake made the Earth rotate a little faster.
Tsunami data:
According to a report by the Scientific American, the top speed of the tsunami was about 800 kilometers per hour. Kyodo News initially reported the highest tsunami run-up as ten meters, then upgraded the number to 38.9 meters in Miyako. According to BBC News, the tsunami waves reached ten kilometers inland in some places.

Increasing bicycle sales:
According to Bloomberg, a website that provides information about business, finance, and government, Japan’s Asahi bicycle sales doubled after the disaster. Many commuters decided to cycle to work due to suspended subway service, fear of additional earthquakes, and increasing fuel prices.
Facing shutdowns-Toyota and Ford:
Forbes, a website for world business, reported that Toyota halted production in Europe for eight days because the earthquake and tsunami caused a supply shortage; Ford Motor Company shut down its factory in the Philippines for 18 days.
Yen strengthened:
Economist Mary Saso explained that the yen temporarily strengthened “due to
speculators demanding yen, because they thought a lot of yen would be repatriated and the yen would strengthen in the future. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

What to do in case of an earthquake

by Esmë O. (grade 10)

Note: This article will appear in a pending edition of The International, the high school's student newspaper.

Disaster always seems to strike when it is most inconvenient. The March 11th earthquake happened to hit right between classes, when everyone was scattered throughout the school trying to get to her next class. So in case an aftershock hits when you are not in a classroom, here are some things you can do to stay safe.
If indoors:
  • Find cover under a desk or table, and hold onto its legs. If you happen to be in a hallway at the time, try to go into a classroom and make sure you keep the doors open. If you still can’t get to a desk, crouch down in a corner and cover your head with your hands or a book, or stand in a doorway that doesn’t have a window over it (as it could shatter and fall on you). Make sure to hold the door or brace yourself against the hinges to avoid the door hitting you.
  • Avoid being near windows or under light fixtures. Also stay away from shelves; the things on them could fall on you.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and wait for instructions, no matter how tempting it is to run outside. You are safer where you are inside.
If outdoors:
  • Stay outdoors, and get as far away from buildings, telephone poles, power lines, and lampposts as you possibly can. If you can’t get out of the way, crouch down and cover your head with your hands or a sturdy object.
  • Do not try to go inside even after the shaking stops; there could be an aftershock.

Most important of all, listen to directions and try to stay calm. Even if you feel like panicking, it will keep the people around you calm, and will help you to keep a clear mind about getting to safety once the shaking stops.

Radiation vs. The Rumors

By Soumya B. (12)

Note: This article will appear in a pending edition of The International, the high school's student newspaper.

Following the massive earthquake that hit eastern Japan on March 11 this year was a chain of catastrophic events, the most sensationalized being the failure of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Though the nuclear reactors automatically shut down after the quake, a hydrogen explosion at the unit resulting from the failure of the cooling systems led to many complications including fires to threats of radiation leakages. Spreading faster than the radiation are the rumors started by panic-stricken residents with little knowledge of the situation and even less of nuclear physics, and perpetuated by exaggerated reports by the media. The stories have resulted in a wave of panic within Japan and outside it. Though the rumors have spread to Tokyo, much of the radiation has not, or at least not an amount significant enough to seriously impact its residents.

Despite the general hype centered on nuclear disasters, as of now, in Tokyo the risk to public health remains fairly low. Radiation levels are still below that of many other major world cities, and these levels are far too small to adversely impact human health. It cannot be denied that the situation in the immediate vicinity of the plant is very grave, with radiation levels much higher than is safe for human exposure. In the days following the explosions at the facility, sharp increases in radioactivity levels in neighboring cities were observed (some of which were due to increased background radiation caused by the earthquake), including Tokyo. However, these dropped just as quickly. The spread of radiation depends greatly on factors such as wind, and this radiation loses energy quite quickly. The current readings in Tokyo tend to fall in the range of 0.07 to 0.09 microsieverts, and the marginal increases in radiation levels do not pose a serious health risk to humans, so the amounts of radiation people in Tokyo are exposed to are well within safe levels.

Japan’s battle with the nuclear power plant continues, so in order to stay calm and informed it is necessary to seek information from reliable sources such as the WHO and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) instead of the foreign media. There are also many knowledgeable sources at ISSH. The Science Department, in particular, can put many worried minds at ease with simple explanations backed by scientific reasoning. For example, the word “nuclear meltdown” brings many terrifying images of melting power plants to mind, but the true meaning is not as bad. “All a meltdown is, is that within the reactor core itself, the fuel or the carbon rods start to melt so that the reaction cannot be controlled,” explains Ms. Niedorf. “It doesn’t make the reaction any more powerful, it just speeds it up so the temperature is higher, causing other areas to melt.” Some of the reactors have partially melted down, but as long as the excessive heat does not cause the steel containment vessel to melt, the situation is not at its worst. Ms. Niedorf draws on her field of expertise, chemistry, to explain why the amount of radioactive substance used in a nuclear reactor is too small to have serious impacts outside a 50 kilometer radius. “It has to do with weather patterns, and the types of radiation being released are not likely to reach Tokyo,” says Ms. Niedorf. “Some are too dense to float, and others are too light so they float up to the top of the atmosphere.” As of now the situation at the nuclear plant keeps changing, but TEPCO aims to have the reactors under control within six to nine months.

As trying as this situation is for the Japanese government and TEPCO, it is not the worst nuclear catastrophe that Japan has ever faced. “A nuclear reactor could never become a bomb!” says Ms. Niedorf when asked if the situation at Fukushima could be compared to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. “A nuclear bomb has to have a very high percentage of concentrated uranium. The fuel rods of the nuclear reactor are not as pure, so it could never explode like a bomb.” As of now, the situation with the reactor remains serious, but according to the IAEA the radiation levels will not rise much more between now and when the reactors are brought under control. “All of the attention on the nuclear reactors is taking away from the people up north who need reassurance at the moment,” says Mr. Griffiths, HOD of the Science Department. “Most of us are worrying about something that shouldn’t really affect us.”

Support for Japan

By Joanna H. (12)

Note: This article will appear in a pending edition of The International, the high school's student newspaper.

The devastating 9.0M earthquake that hit Japan resulted in a restless and worried two weeks off from school. Once we were back, many students were eager to start helping those who were affected most by the earthquake. The high school Student Council decided to donate all the money in their Emergency Fund for the earthquake victims, and the Social Service Council also announced to donate all money raised in charities such as the Thursday morning cafes throughout this year for the earthquake victims. The high school Student Council has also sold socks donated by Sanskriti Mehta (11) and held a successful pizza sale to raise money.
The Student Council’s biggest project was one in which the whole school cooperated to collect items for the Earthquake Drive. Different items needed by the victims of the earthquake were collected for two weeks with specific items requested each day. The eagerness and support of the students wanting to help could be seen as cardboard boxes loaded with items such as food, baby supplies, and toiletries stacked up and filled the area outside of Ms. Young’s office. Once fully packaged, the items were sent to the Second Harvest offices in Tokyo to be distributed to affected areas in the Tohoku region. After the two weeks of the Earthquake Drive, a school supplies drive was organized for Omose Elementary School in Kesennuma. The school was disastrously affected by the tsunami that followed the earthquake and was in desperate need of new supplies as the school reopened for the new school year. After the success of the first two weeks, students continued to show enthusiasm through their donations and large numbers of boxes were shipped to Omose Elementary school.
Even with school out for the summer, there are ways to help outside of school. People who have been displaced from their homes either because of the tsunami or radiation are in desperate need of supplies and money. Through Second Harvest Japan, an organization, food, supplies, and money can be donated. Information concerning which supplies to donate and the address to mail to can be found on their website: http://www.2hj.org/index.php/eng_home. Hands on Tokyo, a volunteer organization, also receives donations and provides opportunities to volunteer. By registering at http://www.handsontokyo.org/, you can easily sign up to volunteer in projects such as helping to sort the items that will be delivered, or writing encouraging messages to the children that have been affected by the disaster. Money can be also donated easily through Facebook on a campaign set up by the Red Cross (http://www.causes.com/campaigns/154523).
The generous donations and help offered will surely contribute to the gradual recovery of affected areas so close to home.

Shaky after the Quake?

by Pounomi K. (12)

Note: This article will appear in a pending edition of The International, the high school's student newspaper.

The after-effects of the 11 March, 2011 earthquake are felt months later; most tangibly in the form of “aftershocks”. Most aftershocks are so minor that they are more annoying than terrifying, making us groan, “Is this gonna go on forever?” But a few aftershocks, like the 7.1M on 11 April, 2011 cannot be ignored and bring up the question: “Is another big earthquake coming?” Seismology cannot give us a definite answer to these questions, but it can compare seismic trends and give us a rough estimate of what to expect after a major earthquake.
Aftershocks follow two trends which were discovered by Japanese geophysicist Fusakichi Omori in 1984. Firstly, the number of aftershocks decreases exponentially after the main shock. Secondly, the maximum magnitude of aftershocks also decreases. Japan is following both of these trends at the moment. The number of aftershocks above 4M on the Richter scale has dropped from eighty per day to an average of five per day within a period of four months and the maximum magnitude has dropped from 7M on the Richter scale to around 4M. The recent main shock, on 11 March led to a major change in pressure between the Okhotsk Plate and the Pacific Plate. The aftershocks occur because the plates slowly recover from this pressure change to arrive at a stable position. This might take many months since the tectonic plates move at a very slow pace, so most scientists agree that Japan will experience aftershocks for anywhere from a few months to a year. Since the magnitude of these earthquakes will most likely decrease, the aftershocks will not be that consequential after four to five months.
Foreshocks, on the other hand, are smaller earthquakes that precede a major earthquake. A 7.4M foreshock startled the residents of Japan on the morning of 9 March, 2011. This foreshock was preceded by a number of minor, escalating earthquakes which kept building in magnitude for the mega-quake of 11 March. Many big earthquakes are preceded by foreshocks, but according to The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, foreshocks have to increase in magnitude if a larger earthquake is going to occur. Japan however shows no indication of an impending mega-quake arising from the same fault line since aftershocks are decreasing in magnitude and do not follow the trend foreshocks do.

Shaky Foundation
by Sneha B. (12)

Note: This article will appear in a pending edition of The International, the high school's student newspaper.

The March 11 earthquake hit quickly and unexpectedly on what seemed to be an ordinary Friday afternoon, and the shifting tectonic plates shook the construction of the new gym, which was taking place at the time of the earthquake. An interview with Yoshioka Hidekatu and Nakao Kouzirou of Nakano Fudou Contruction. revealed what was taking place behind the white wall when the earthquake hit.

The workers were pouring concrete when the quake hit, and while they had emergency procedures for events such as heavy rain, typhoons, and earthquakes, they were still thrown off by the magnitude of this earthquake, which was different from any kind of disaster the workers had ever experienced on their jobs. The operator of the crane, understandably, was especially apprehensive. As soon as the workers felt the shaking worsen, they stopped the concrete mixer and evacuated to the platform above them. The workers later moved into the temporary house on the construction site and could not go back to work for an hour after the earthquake. However, thinking another earthquake that strong would not happen in the near future, they resumed pouring concrete. At 4:30 p.m., two hours after the earthquake, the workers were asked to stop working and return to their homes. Unfortunately, going home was not an easy feat for the citizens of Tokyo that day. Some drove for 8 to 12 hours, and those who had to commute by train stayed with friends living nearby or spent the night at the construction site, in the temporary house. Those who stayed at the site watched over the construction.

The effect on the work situation was unclear to the workers. Due to the media focus on the Sendai-Tohoku region, no one was certain about the situation in the Kanto region. There was also the possibility of another big earthquake, as well as power outages, so the next day’s construction was limited, and after that construction was cancelled for about a week. The workers were able to return to the construction on March 21, ten days after the earthquake. They surveyed the damage and concluded that there were no major problems. The crane and other equipment were also fine. However, it took two weeks for the work situation to get back to normal. Construction was slowed down due to shortage of power and gasoline for the equipment and fewer workers being able to report for duty because of transportation issues. The building of an elevator that they were working on in the new building had to be stopped. Unlike students and faculty, the workers could not take it easy and recover. They had to keep going, and work harder to make up for lost time and meet deadlines. Luckily, there were no major changes to the design of the school building, and the construction is back on schedule.

Editor’s Note: The consequences of the March 11 earthquake were far reaching: we still feel the aftershocks, hear the rumors, and see the impact in our daily lives. However, we can look out the window and find inspiration in the sight of the workers who keep going, just as they kept going on that fateful day. Our heroes are working hard to ensure the completion of the school gym construction that we have all been looking forward to, and the entire Sacred Heart community appreciates their efforts.

“What will happen to Japan when the nuclear power plant melts down?”
Hikari Suzuki (8)
The problem of the nuclear power plant in Japan in s getting worse right now, and the fire fighters are trying their best to prevent radiation from leaking out. So, my research question is “What will happen to Japan when the nuclear power plant melts down?” The firefighters are doing their best, radiation still leaks out. We can say this from the fact that the radiation was found from tap water and on vegetables in Ibaragi prefecture. I know how the radiation can cause deaths and damage to the land because I have searched about it in my first chronicle.
In TVs of foreign countries, they stated that the percentage of the nuclear power plant to melt down to is higher than the percentage of the power plants being fixed. I strongly agree with it because currently the amount of radiation is increasing and it will be really dangerous for the workers to fix the power plant. Therefore, we have to leave the power plant until all the radiation has disappeared, and it is safe to live there again.
Firstly, what is a melt down? When the fuel rod on the nuclear reactor melts, it causes the melt down to happen. It releases energy and radiation that was kept inside the nuclear reactor. What is happening to the power plants of Fukushima is that it is half way through the step of the melt down. In other words, the fuel rods are melting themselves. But right now it didn’t melt down the protective dome that encloses the nuclear reactor.
Some people might have thought that it is strange to put water on the nuclear power plants even it didn’t have fire coming out of it. The reason why they put water on the nuclear power plants is to cool down the nuclear reactor so that they could stop it from melting down. Since, the pipes that bring water up to the cooling system was damaged because of the tsunami, the government had to send people to splash water on the nuclear reactor.
Currently in TV, there are many commercials that call out to the people living in Japan to save electricity to not buy things that you don’t need and encourage people in towns that was damaged by the tsunami. There was a time, in the news that we had to buy water because the tap water had radiation in it. Also, many people bought food and water so that they could survive during crisis.
When the nuclear meltdown occurs, the same thing will happen again. Tap water will not be available to drink. The government said that it will be safe to drink tap water but not too much few weeks ago. But if it occurs, it would not go like this time. Every person in Japan will go and buy water to the supermarkets near the store. Then, the government will have to limit the number of water that each person can buy so that it would not run out quickly.
From the previous radiation leaking, people who live in Japan don’t have enough food to eat because the vegetables from the prefectures that are in the danger zone aren’t selling any more. If all the people who are living in Japan rushes to buy food, there will be no food left. Some people decided to grow their own crops incase if they lose the chance to buy food.
We also have to save electricity. When the nuclear power plant meltdown occurs, it means that we don’t have enough electricity, so we have to save more. It is almost summer, and it is going to be freaking hot. How can the people who live in Japan survive without air conditioners? Last year, there were many people who lost their lives from hotness of the sun even they had a air conditioner, or a fan.
Right now, four prefectures which are Ibaragi, Tochigi, Fukushima, and Gumma cannot sell vegetables such as spinaches because they can be infected by radiation. The government says that it is all right to eat infected vegetables if you wash them properly, but just for safety, they are not allowing these four prefectures to sell vegetables. Unfortunately, the season that the earthquake happened was in spring which was the harvest time. So, all the vegetables that the people in Fukushima had taken care of were ruined. But this is what is occurring now. If the nuclear meltdown occurs, more prefectures would not be able to sell vegetables and fruits that lead to not enough food supply for the people who live in Japan.
At the same time, a lot of liters of cow milk are spoiled each day because the cows get sick if they don’t produce milk. The people who own cows have to feed the cows every day and at the same time, they spoil cow milk.
If the nuclear meltdown occurs, the people who set their home town as Fukushima will have to evacuate to the south of Japan so that they don’t get the radiation. The people would not be allowed to search for their relatives bodies because it is so dangerous to step in the prefecture.
Airplanes and Boats will be mostly used by Japanese people who are evacuating Japan. No people from foreign countries will come in unless the army or the people who came to support Japan. Airports will be crowded with people who are evacuating.
When the nuclear reactor melts down, visitors from foreign countries would not visit to Japan anymore because of the radiation. Also, the things that are exported from Japan would lose its value because no one would buy it.
Some countries are thinking that it is dangerous be near Japan. However, Japan has more serious problems than neighboring countries such as China, Australia, and Korea.
So they don’t have to worry about the radiation. However, sometimes the wind might carry radiation. But it would not affect human body that much.
When the nuclear reactor melts down, and we get poisoned by the radiation here are some symptoms that you can realize that you’ve been poisoned.
-Hair loss
-Birth deformities over generations
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