By HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake
Evergreen School District ramped up its Student Experience Day to cover many of the back-to-school bases from registration to immunizations, sports physicals, even haircuts, in preparation for that special first day.
The gym was the final stop past the bustle of students who were practicing locker combinations and putting supplies away, or searching for classrooms. Various community agencies and organizations were set up in booths around the gym where students and families milled around. The event was held at Evergreen Junior High School and was open to all Evergreen students, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
“Everyone here is volunteering their services. [There are] free immunizations, free haircuts, free sports physicals, bike helmet safety, a crash rollover simulator outside, WIC — ” Evergreen School District Superintendent Laurie Barron said, listing off services. “Evergreen Rotary is here giving out snacks and drinks.”
Traditionally, the experience day was set aside for students to meet teachers, put away school supplies and complete paperwork and get a physical for a nominal fee, but the school district and Flathead City-County Health Department realized much more could be offered through a partnership.
“We thought, how can we better serve our community, and so we brought everything in,” Barron said, noting that one of the struggles before school starts is students getting all the required immunizations to attend.
Going into schools to provide services such as immunizations is not typical Flathead City-County Health Department Health Officer Hillary Hanson said.
“It’s something we’re looking at how do we better provide services in the community outside of our main building,” Hanson said.
“We actually approached the school about the idea of how can we collaborate better to provide both public health and medical services to Evergreen and through those conversations really came to the idea of we have this great opportunity with the student experience day to provide services, meet the community, link not only the kids, but the parents, grandparents here to needed services,” she said.
The music room, located toward the back of the gym, was transformed into a mini salon where children waited with parents to get a trim or cut from Bella Colour Salon and Cheveux Salon stylists.
“The neatest part of this is watching our community come together to support each other,” Barron said. “Everything here is free for our students and families and it’s because of all the volunteer and community service work of all the people that are here. And what a great way to say welcome back to the school year.”
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.