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Bridgeport, Tualatin families enjoy free 'OMSI Night'

Annual tradition for Title I schools gives families an opportunity to explore museum after hours.

TIMES PHOTO: MARK MILLER - From left, 6-year-old Mehki Pressley and his sisters Malia, 4, and Makenna, 10, watch as a paper cone rides a column of air up a tube at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Monday evening. Mehki and Makenna are students at Tualatin Elementary School.Families from Bridgeport and Tualatin elementary schools piled onto buses Monday evening for a free trip to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

OMSI Night is an annual tradition for the schools. Both Bridgeport and Tualatin elementary schools qualify for federal assistance under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act because a relatively high percentage of their students come from low-income families, and Bridgeport Principal Debbie Ebert said that means they can get a special group rate from OMSI.

“It's just the two schools that are here, so we have the place to ourselves,” Ebert remarked.

Because the trip is so inexpensive for the Tigard-Tualatin School District, even with busing included, the costs are not passed on to families, Ebert said.

“It truly is a free event for our families,” she said. “I think that for many of our families, coming here on the weekends is just really expensive, and it's so packed, and this is such a great opportunity to have the place to ourselves and really enjoy it with our kids and their … friends. And then for some of our families, you know, an outing like this just wouldn't be feasible — cost-prohibitive. So just having the opportunity to come here is a great deal.”

Ebert estimated about 250 families came out Monday to OMSI Night, with many riding on three school buses and others driving themselves.

“It was a huge hit last year, and we had even more people RSVP this year,” said Ebert.

Parent Mandy Dickson said her three boys, Bo, Cole and Luke, were excited about the opportunity to visit OMSI Monday.

“They love to be able to come do this, but it's even more of a fun element when they know all their classmates are going to be here,” Dickson said.

Another parent, Valerie Pressley, said OMSI Night is a good opportunity for families that might not otherwise be able to take a trip to the museum. She said she has taken her kids all three times that Tualatin Elementary has offered OMSI Night.

“Every time, it's always a learning experience, and the kids have fun,” she said.

By Mark Miller
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