‘Family Resource Room’ debuts

The new school year brings more than just the return of students to Orchard Heights Elementary — it also marks the unveiling of the school’s Family Resource Room, nicknamed “The Shark Park.”

According to Orchard Heights staff member Kim Smith of the Olympic Education Service District, the room and its contents are meant as a resource for Orchard Heights students and their parents.

“Our community is very diverse in their needs and their wants,” Smith said.

Last Thursday, independent dental hygienist Debra Baxter and her husband Ken set up portable dental equipment in the room, providing reduced-cost screenings, sealants and fluoride placement.

The treatments are provided twice a year at the school and costs are calculated on a sliding scale — free for students covered by Medicaid and reduced for students eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Forms explaining the costs and procedures are sent home to parents in advance. Those who elect the checkups are billed after the service is completed at the school during the regular school day.

Baxter said the visits help students become familiar with what goes on once their in the dentist chair.

“For some of the kids, this is their first dental experience,” said Baxter, who saw 12 students on Thursday and 14 to previous Tuesday.

The Shark Park is fully staffed, offering students backpacks, supplies, mini-take-home computers with educational games, Internet access, a printer, a television, a VCR and a play area.

The room offers parents a community resource book and filing cabinet, as well as personal help making sense of DSHS and Medicaid forms.

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