Students get wordy gift

 Area third-grade students took home a present Wednesday after receiving special visitors in their classrooms.

A group of St. Marys Rotarians handed out dictionaries during the St. Marys Rotary Club’s ninth annual Dictionary Project to third-grade students at Holy Rosary School, East Elementary, West Elementary and Grand Lake Christian School.

At West Elementary, April Johns’s class was the first on the list to receive dictionaries.

‘In my office I have many books,’ Rotarian Jim Harris said before motioning to fellow Rotarian and St. Marys Public Library Director Sue Pittman, ‘Not as many books as Mrs. Pittman, but the book I use most is my dictionary.’

Harris told the students the dictionary also holds facts about states, presidents, maps, and the longest word in the English language, which has 1,909 letters.

‘We know third grade is a great year, and we want you to get a great start,’ Harris said, adding that the students will be quizzed on the longest word for next week’s spelling test.

‘If you take care of it, it will last you all the way to junior high,’ Harris said.

Next in Johns’s class, Superintendent Mary Riepenhoff asked the students to turn to page 80 in their dictionaries. ‘Find a word for what you did, thanking Mr. Harris for the dictionaries,’ she said.

Meredith found the word–courteous–and Riepenhoff said the students had learned one of the words in their new books.

The Rotarians then moved on to Joni Ahlers’s class.

‘I still have my dictionaries from every year,’ Ahlers told her students while they received their dictionaries. One of her students was Ian, who took time to flip through his dictionary.

‘I like that I can use it when I’m stuck on a word,’ Ian told The Evening Leader.

Next, the group stopped at Jen Van Gundy’s classroom.

‘I like that they’ll have it for their whole school year,’ Van Gundy said.

‘It’s something they can take home and use for homework and for writing purposes. We use it a lot in reading class and writing for looking up spelling words, vocabulary and pronunciation. They’re excited about it.’

Kelli Watson’s class at West Elementary was the last third-grade classroom for the Rotarians before they headed to Grand Lake Christian School, and Chloe said she liked her new book.

‘I like that it can show me how to get words so I can actually spell them right,’ she said.

Harris estimated the Rotarians passed out 180 books in St. Marys, and he said he likes that teachers are using the dictionaries in their classrooms.

‘It really pleases me,’ Harris said. ‘Every classroom, the teachers have it fully included into their lesson plans. They’re expecting it now. Third grade is the year to start; they’re learning how to learn.’

Last year, Rotary’s dictionary projects handed out more than 107,000 dictionaries to more than 900 schools in Ohio.