Local, National News Covers Sinkhole Celebration

Isabel Owens, Opinion and Copy Editor

4 students have been credited with renewing concern over the sinkhole at the intersection of Rheem Boulevard and Center Street in Moraga.

Seniors Kendall Schmidt, Michael DaRodda, Sierra Berrick, and Alexander Zerkle threw a 1-year birthday party for the sinkhole on March 13. Their work was featured by several Bay Area news outlets, including NBC Bay Area, East Bay Times, and CBS SF Bay Area. In addition, the party was referenced during NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, a nationally broadcast quiz show, on March 18.

Schmidt said she “thought of the idea 3 or 4 months ago” and “looked at all the articles from when it happened last year.”

“[I] figured out what date it was and then wrote it down on my calendar. As it got closer, I just kept an eye on it, and when we got to the weekend before I texted Michael. And then we went and got supplies,” Schmidt said.

The group of students set up a poster reading “Happy 1st Birthday,” streamers, a balloon, and 2 birthday cards. “I spent probably 10 bucks. It was a rather large sum,” said DaRodda.

Zerkle brought the streamers, while Berrick “just sort of showed up,” according to DaRodda.

Schmidt and DaRodda were both interviewed by NBC Bay Area. “Mine was over the phone; Kendall’s was with text message, with some woman from NBC Bay Area. She misspelled my last name,” said DaRodda.

“I was just really shocked because I thought maybe we’d make the police blotter or we’d make a little thing in Lamorinda Weekly or something like that. And 6th period, I looked at my texts and someone in our group chat sent these links to all these different articles, and I just kept hearing more and more things about it and seeing it on the news and it kept getting bigger,” said Schmidt.

“I think it’s hilarious. I think it’s absolutely hysterical,” said DaRodda.

NBC Bay Area‘s Gillian Edevane reported on March 13 that “a group of witty highschoolers” were responsible for the prank.

“I enjoy that description. I like the subtitle that they had too, about caring about civil duty,” said Schmidt, referring to the article’s subtitle: “And they say teenagers don’t care about civic responsibility…”

Schmidt, DaRodda, Zerkle, and Berrick celebrated the birthday with pancakes at Nations across the street from the sinkhole. “Michael put candles in our pancakes that we had at Nations, and we watched the sinkhole,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt and DaRodda are hopeful that their legacy as the birthday-party-instigators will live on. “They should just keep the sinkhole, and then they can throw a big celebration every year and have large festivities and that can be the way they raise money,” Schmidt said.

DaRodda suggested a “repair festival.”