Elks generosity long on meaning for kids

Third grader John knows that hippopotomonstrasesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words, thanks to the Greenfield Lodge of Elks.

For the past eight years, the Greenfield Lodge of Elks has been donating dictionaries to third-grade students as part of the Dictionary Project, a nationwide initiative to provide every child with a dictionary.

"This is actually my first dictionary," said John as he pawed through the crisp new pages. "I’m going to use it to find some new words, and I’ve found the really, really long ones."

Since the project began in Greenfield, the Elks have donated 648 dictionaries.

John and 20 of his classmates at the Discovery School at Four Corners received their dictionaries on Thursday. As they walked to art class, many were still trying to pronounce the longest word in that particular dictionary, "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis," which is a form of lung disease caused by silica dust.

"Three or four could pronounce that already," said Greenfield Lodge of Elks Chairman for the Dictionary Project Robert Mott.

Mott said the Elks donate the dictionaries with the hope that the dictionaries will expand the children’s vocabulary and act as a valuable tool throughout their education.

"This is the right age," said Mott. "They are at the beginning of their education, and this is the time where they pick up speed and go from the A’s to the Z’s and on. The learning is just incredible."

Mott said that over the years the Elks have received thank-you notes from the students who were grateful for the valuable resource. Some students still have their dictionaries in their backpacks after years of wear and tear, ready to be used on their next paper.

"When we can see the happiness in their faces because of what we do, it makes it all worth it," said Mott.