Rotary Club gifts all Calvert third-graders with dictionaries

 Calvert County third-graders were given hundreds of pages of words this week, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Prince Frederick, which distributed dictionaries to Appeal, Barstow, Calvert, Dowell, Mutual and St. Leonard elementary schools as well as to Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Solomons.

The Rotary Club of North Calvert County did the same for schools north of Prince Frederick, Rotary Club of Prince Frederick Vocational Service Director Eugene Karol said while at Mutual Elementary School in Port Republic on Tuesday.

`Their faces light up; they love to look up things in the dictionary,` said Karol, who is also president of the Calvert County Board of Education.

Karol said that the dictionary given out — `A Student`s Dictionary` — contains much more than words and their definitions.

It includes biographies of U.S. presidents; copies of The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution; facts about the planets in the solar system; maps of the seven continents; information about the 50 states; the periodic table; and even short lessons on American Sign Language and Braille, Karol said.

Along with the latter two dictionary features, Karol said students also tend to be excited about 1,909-letter longest word in the English language, which is written in the last page of the dictionary.

`We give it [out to students] in the third grade because they`re ready for it,` said Rotary Club of Prince Frederick member and past president Warren Prince, who distributed the dictionaries along with Karol at Mutual.

Prince also said that teachers receive the dictionaries and often plan activities with them.

`We feel it`s an important part of a youngster`s ability to read and ability to utilize a reference,` Prince said.

Karol distributed the dictionaries to St. Leonard Elementary School on Wednesday, after explaining to third graders that the Rotary Club was not, as one student believed, `a riding club with cowboys.`

He told students that instead the organization was about `service above self` and provided college scholarships, student exchange programs to foreign countries and was once behind the eradication of the disease polio.

`We`re here to give you something very special,` Karol said to the students, who he eventually asked to look up the words `friendship` and `beneficial.`

Karol also asked the students how many of them had ever used a dictionary before, and when nearly every hand shot up he turned to the teachers and said, `You`re doing some good teaching.`

Eight-year-old Madison, who told Karol she might be interested in a Rotary Club scholarship to attend Harvard University, already has a favorite word that she doesn`t have to look up.

`I think `trustworthiness` because I always tell my parents the truth and I want everyone else to do that,` Madison said.

Zachary, 8, has a word of choice as well.

`I`d have to say `earth` because it`s the planet we live on,` he said.

And 8-year-old Jaden tried to sound out the longest word in the dictionary but stopped herself, laughing, `I don`t know, it`s too hard.`