D is for dictionary

 ‘How do you spell polio?’ Brian Oare asked students in Brittney Minnick’s third-grade class at South Shore Elementary School Tuesday afternoon. ‘Hint – it starts with the letter ‘P’.’

Hands quickly shot into the air as one by one the students found the word in their new dictionaries provided by the 70-member Greater Albany Rotary Club.

Peter, 9, was among the first to find the word, and then proudly read its definition.

‘This dictionary will help me with my spelling,’ Peter said. ‘I enjoy reading, especially funny stuff.’

Classmate Tamara, 8, said the dictionaries are ‘good for kids’ because now she can look up words on her own.

John Kollaer passed out the dictionaries as Oare told the youngsters why he chose the word polio.

‘For the last 15 years, Rotary Clubs around the world have been working to wipe out polio. It used to kill many children in many countries and we hope that in a couple years, there will be a vaccine to protect people from it,’ Oare said. ‘These are your own private dictionaries. You should put your name inside the front cover and keep them at school so you can look up any word you don’t know.’

He then asked the students to name one of the characters on his colorful shirt and they chimed in ‘mouse,’ which they quickly found in their new books.

‘This project originally started eight years ago with third grades in Albany schools,’ Kollaer said. ‘It has grown to include every third grade student in public, private and home schools in Linn County. Other Rotary Clubs now help us get around the entire county.’

About 2,000 dictionaries will be given out this year, the men said, including about 60 to the students in Minnick’s and Cathy Fraser’s third-grade classrooms.

The dictionaries were purchased from The Dictionary Project, a nonprofit organization based in South Carolina. According to the company’s website, nearly 15 million children have received dictionaries because of sponsors like Rotary.

‘In this age of electronics, we believe it’s important that students learn how to look up words in a book, not online or on their cell phones,’ Oare said. ‘It’s an important learning tool.’