Power of words

The third graders at Queen of the Miraculous Medal School flipped through the pages of new dictionaries Friday.

The books were donated and funded collaboratively through the Jackson Northwest Kiwanis Club, John George Student Loan Foundation and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70.

Northwest Kiwanis member Stan Mazur said it`s part of an effort to get dictionaries into the hands of every third grader in Jackson County.

`I`m in hopes that all of you use these dictionaries. I still use it, and I`m 74 years old,` Mazur said to the third graders. `There`s still words in newspapers and magazines I don`t understand.`

Bob Frank, also a Northwest member, said it`s a program Kiwanis Clubs have been involved with for several years. The area`s other chapters of the service club–the Downtown Kiwanis Club of Jackson and Brooklyn Kiwanis–are also involved with distributing the books to students at every public and private school in the county.

He said the dictionaries donated to all of the county`s about 2,100 third graders cost $1.70 each.

Sarah O`Connell, a Queen`s third-grade teacher, said it`s been a while since the two third-grade classes have had new dictionaries.

`We`re starting to do some writing this year, and they`re always coming up and asking, `What does this word mean?“ she said. `They always want to look it up in the dictionary, and they have races.`

Mazur quizzed the kids about the biggest word in their dictionaries, which was 1,909 letters long and printed on the last page. Students in O`Connell`s class recently had learned how to use a dictionary, and their skills were put to the test.

`I want you to locate one word that I say,` Mazur told the two classes. For the students in room 508, it was `police,` and in 507, `newspaper.`

Jackson Police Sgt. Jeff Mazur, Stan Mazur`s son, also presented dictionaries to Queen`s third graders. He`s a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, which includes sworn officers, retirees and civilians, and founded the Community Visibility Fund.

The fund, which comes from payroll deductions of employees at the Jackson Police Department, contributed $500 toward the dictionaries, Jeff Mazur said.

`My plan is: They`re going to have this when they`re a senior in high school,` he said. `So, they keep this book, they utilize it, and they realize it`s a tool or a resource.`

Stan Mazur said he hopes the next collaborative effort will be getting thesauruses for the county`s sixth- or seventh-graders.

But for now, he said, he finds it rewarding to help ensure Jackson County`s `youngsters get a good education and become better citizens.`