Students look up favorite words

Even with more than 32,000 words from which to choose, Giovanna on Monday had no trouble picking out a favorite.

`My word is `frost` because I like how it sounds,` Giovanna, 9, said.

Giovanna and more than 400 other third-graders searched for their words of choice in dictionaries donated by the Everest Area Optimist Club. Throughout this week, the Wausau Noon Optimists will distribute another 780 dictionaries to 17 public and parochial schools in Wausau. The clubs distribute the dictionaries as part of American Education Week, which runs through Saturday.

The Everest Optimist group began distributing dictionaries to students in 2002 and the Wausau group followed a year later.

The two Optimist groups rely on financial support from their members and three local banks that contribute to the Everest group`s project. This year`s batch of dictionaries cost a total of $2,427.

The third-grade students at Schofield Elementary School on Monday flipped rapidly through their new copies of Webster`s Dictionary for Students. They chatted about words they recognized and others they didn`t such as `chinchilla,` a small gray rodent found in South America.

The students who explore the entries in their dictionaries will keep applying the book to their lives as they grow and learn, third-grade teacher Karen Kelbley said.

Students will better understand stories and assignments by being able to look up unfamiliar words — the more words they understand, the more interest they will have in the material, Kelbley said.

Third-grader Payton said he could use his dictionary to look up words he doesn`t know in the fantasy books he reads. Payton, 9, enjoys reading anything that involves dragons.

Everest Optimist member Steve Frodl said the students always are excited to receive the dictionaries. The books will come in handy for many of the careers students choose, he said.

Giovanna, a Schofield Elementary third-grader, said she likely will have to use a dictionary to learn different words whether she becomes a teacher or a doctor. Although Giovanna`s family owns a dictionary, she now has one to call her own.