Plenty of words for this gift

Physician Ned Krohn loves to help struggling readers in Whitehall District Schools’ volunteer Adopt-A-Reader program.
So, when he learned about a way he could give young students an important tool for reading, he jumped on it.

That is, he and several other Adopt-A-Reader volunteers who have joined Dr. Krohn in buying dictionaries for all 146 third graders at Whitehall’s Ealy Elementary School.

The seven Adopt-A-Readers distributed the dictionaries to the appreciative third graders during an assembly in the school cafeteria on Jan. 21. Joining Dr. Krohn were volunteers Brian Binns, Linda Brown, Jim and Barb McFarland, Norma Nesbit and Lisa Metsaars. The students applauded the volunteers when they were introduced at the assembly by Dina Jelinek who has coordinated the Adopt-A-Reader program since 2001.

“I read in my Elks magazine about The Dictionary Project,” Krohn said. The article was about Elks clubs being involved with The Dictionary Project which distributes dictionaries to third graders in schools selected by the sponsor.

Founded in South Carolina in 1995, the Dictionary Project is a national non-profit organization which has the goal of providing every third grade student in the United States with a dictionary. In this area, the Oceana Center Grange has donated dictionaries to third graders in Oceana County schools and at neighboring Montague Oehrli Elementary third graders, some of whom live in Oceana County.

Krohn said he mentioned the idea of buying the dictionaries to Binns, the former White Lake Area Ambulance Authority director. “Let’s do it,” Binns replied.

Krohn said the dictionaries not only help students learn the spelling and meaning of words, they are a research tool. The dictionaries contain a gazetteer – a geographical dictionary.

Having a personal dictionary means students won’t have to share the classroom copy while working on a project.

Binns knows how important a dictionary is to learning how to read. He had suffered a second stroke, and said, "I had to learn the alphabet and to read again.”

Nesbit is a first-year Adopt-A-Reader volunteer who said “the rewards are far greater than the time you put into it.” Her son, David, had been an Adopt-A-Reader volunteer for 10 years. “It’s absolutely wonderful.”

In the Adopt-A-Reader program, adult volunteers are matched with an elementary school student who is struggling with reading. One day a week the volunteer spends a half hour listening to the student read, then going over the reading. Matched pairs often build a relationship beyond reading.

Barb McFarland said she volunteers to help young students who are “America’s future. We ( she and her volunteer husband, Jim) believe we want to give young people anything we can.”

Linda Brown, a retired Muskegon teacher, volunteers for Adopt-A-Reader because she had attended Ealy (then Whitehall Elementary) and her mother, Ruth Cordell, was a longtime teacher there. She is pleased to be a part of the dictionary giveaway.

And, third grader Jacob was thrilled to get a dictionary.

“It’s cool,” he said. “I’ll keep it (dictionary) at school to use it.”

The dictionaries cost the seven volunteers $285.