ORCHARD MESA, Colo. (KKCO) - Principal Vernann Raney makes sure that each student has great oral hygiene. "We get 435 students through toothrbrushing every day so it has to move quickly."
Every morning, students line up and grab their toothbrush from labeled cups hanging on a board. They dab their brush onto a paper plate with individual dollops of tooth paste, and then they head to the sink to brush.
The program is voluntary, but school officials say most kids participate. Principal Raney says that encouraging the daily brushing habit promotes great attendance. "We have found through research that many children can't pay attention when they have tooth infections. When families are faced with these economic conditions, sometimes the dentist is the first to fall by the wayside."
Also at Dos Rios, students get to spend time in music class, one of the first programs to traditionally get cut in many schools.
Third grader Callie plays the violin after school, but she also enjoys spending time in music class at Dos Rios. She likes learning about different composers, and learning to play the piano. She says it's nice because "we don't have to sit all the time and be in one room all the time."
According to officials, attendance at Dos Rios is between 96 to 98 percent.
They credit the toothbrushing program with warding off tooth infections which could lead to minor illnesses that may keep kids home sick.
The students at Dos Rios have pulled their C-SAP growth rates up in recent years. In 2008 in reading, the students had a growth rate of 39, compared to the state's avererage of 50. In 2009, that growth rate grew to 48, and in 2010, students pulled ahead of the state's average growth rate, with a score of 52.
They also pulled their math growth rate of 21 in 2008 up to 52 in 2010, beating the state's average growth rate of 50.