Rio Rancho third graders receive free dictionaries

There’s nothing like a book to open one’s mind, and there’s nothing like a dictionary to open one’s mind to the possibilities of reading.

And that’s what makes The Dictionary Project such a worthwhile endeavor, said Cielo Azul Elementary School Principal LaVonna Archuleta, as the Rio Rancho Elks Lodge No. 2500 provided free dictionaries for every third grader in Rio Rancho Public Schools.

"It’s important because in third grade is when we start teaching them to do research and to start using independent learning," she said. "This helps give them the tools to do that."

Because budgets are so tight these days, though, the school district is unable to provide such a resource for its students.

"The last couple of years, we haven’t had the money to give every student a dictionary," Archuleta said. "This is such a benefit for the school and the student."

Each of the dictionary presentations was accompanied by an assembly where Elks members explain why dictionaries are an important tool.

Nearly 150 dictionaries were handed out at Cielo Azul.

Students in Jeannette Tripp’s class leafed through the pages, looking at mathematical equations, the solar system and the periodic table.

"They enjoyed them so much that I eventually had to tell them to put them to the side," Tripp said. "They just love having these books."