New dictionaries delight Peoria third graders

Miranda, 8, a third grader at Northmoor Primary School, scanned and flipped the pages of her brand new dictionary with a finger tip that was elaborately colored with bright orange nail polish. She searched for "community."

C-a…c-e…c-i…c-l, c-o… The finger moved down one column of words and then up another column. Up, down, up, down.

"There it is," she said. "Community."

She shot her hand in the air, but the woman from the Rotary Club of Peoria North, the giver of dictionaries, called on a classmate.

"That’s OK," she said, as someone else read the definition of community. "I found the word, too."

Miranda and 107 of her fellow students who occupy the five third grades at Northmoor were the recipients of 107 paperback student dictionaries. The group gathered in a second floor hallway at Northmoor on Wednesday morning and excitedly thumbed through the pages of the new reference books. Teachers kept order with a complicated three-fingered countdown system of signals and gestures: three fingers, attention needed; two fingers, eyes on the speaker; one finger, locked in and quiet.

"They were so excited to get the books," said Rotarian Bob Runkle. "And they were so very well behaved."

Peoria North gave away about 1,200 dictionaries to District 150 third graders on Wednesday.

The students were asked to look up four words: school, learn, community and service. They eagerly thumbed through the pages and raised their hands when they found the word. Miranda found all four and raised her hand four times without getting called on.

"Some words have a second meaning. Does anyone see the second meaning for "service"?" Runkle said.

A second meaning meant a second chance. Miranda raised her hand again and this time, Runkle pointed in her direction.

"A church ceremony," she read proudly from her new book.

Rotarian Marsha Ray explained the club’s mission to the students. Then she said she hoped the dictionaries were put to good use.

"We hope you use them and like them," Marsha Ray said.

"What do you say?" a teacher said to the students.

"Thank you," the class said in unison.

The "you," spontaneously drawn out into a long extended "ooooooooooooo," lasted several seconds.

Scott Hilyard can be reached at 686-3244 or at

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