Wordsmiths in the making: Frisbee Elementary School third-graders embrace their new dictionaries

Frisbee Elementary School third-graders had their faces buried in their new dictionaries Tuesday morning after the Kittery Rotary Club presented one to every student.

Tuesday marked the third year of the local Rotary`s Dictionary Project, aimed at promoting literacy.

Since 1999, Rotarian and Kittery Police Lt. Russ French said Rotary clubs have given out more than 1 1/2 million dictionaries around the world.

Shane, 9, has ambitious goals after receiving his dictionary.

`I`m going to try to learn all the words in the dictionary, and I`m going to try to learn all the sign language because I want to stop talking as much as I normally do,` he said.

A Student`s Dictionary, a compact, paperback book, was given out to about 80 students.

On the back page of the dictionary, the longest word in the English language was printed, taking up nearly the entire page and challenging students to read.

`I only got to the second line of the longest word in the world,` Cyerra, 8, said. She was also enjoying many other aspects the dictionary offered. `I like it because it tells you about the states, and the world, and the planets.`

Cooper, 8, said he thought it was pretty neat to be given a dictionary, and he also plans to learn some sign language. He too, was eyeing the longest word, which the book has being 1,909 letters long to describe an enzyme that contains 267 amino acids.

`I like the last page because it has the longest word in the English language,` he said.

French and other Rotarians in attendance shared a little about themselves with the students.

David Gooch, a former Kittery Rotary Club president, attributed much of the Dictionary Project to French, explaining he chaired the club service project committee when Kittery`s tradition began.

`He has put some attention to it other clubs haven`t,` Gooch said, noting the books are personalized with the students` names and letters are sent to parents.

Gooch said the students get a `sense of responsibility` from owning the books and bringing them back with them the next school year.

`There is a place for these, very much so, despite computers,` he said. `Computers don`t give you the `why,` just the `what.` `

French said the project has been very successful and has received a lot of positive feedback. He said the `bottom line` is it`s important for students to know how to read, understand and spell and pronounce words properly.

`What is amazing about all this stuff is the reaction from the kids. The kids absolutely love them,` French said.

Ellen McClure, another Rotarian at the school Tuesday, said the Rotary is big on literacy.

`A lot of Rotary Clubs do it, so we just got on the bandwagon with it,` she said.

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