Garland Grange gives words and more

Third-grade students attending Ridgeview Community School recently welcomed a team of Garland Grange members who brought words and dictionaries for them. The team was led by Bill Bemis, master of the Grange, who offered the students a summary of the grange’s history. Bemis was accompanied by grange members Ernest Rollins and Becca Myers.

This is the third year Garland has donated dictionaries to Ridgeview students as part of their “Words for Thirds” Program. The ideal of the program is to aid third-grade teachers in their goal to see all their students leave at the end of the year as good writers, active readers, and creative thinkers. The dictionary is for the children to keep, so that they can take it with them into the fourth grade and use it throughout their entire school career.

As the team distributed a dictionary to each student it became apparent there was something a little different this year. As students followed the instruction to write their names on the label on the first page many exclaimed, “Hey, my dictionary smells like apples!” Rollins admitted this was probably because they had been stored briefly in the apple barn at Rollins Orchards.

Rollins introduced several new words to third graders who quickly learned to use guidewords to find definitions. It also didn’t take long for them to see the usefulness of their new tool. Mariah loves to read and write. She’s quite proud of the fact she’s read 67 books so far this year and will be adding the dictionary to her list. “When I’m writing and have to edit what I wrote, I can look up words I’ve spelled wrong or am not sure and get it right.” She also discovered the encyclopedic portion in the back. “I can also look up presidents and use the maps. There’s lots of stuff in here!”

Classmate Tom agreed and immediately began practicing sign language using the chart he discovered in his dictionary. Students familiarized themselves with their new book by looking up words like “grange” and “patron.” After reading the definition together, Rollins explained more about the grange and pointed out, “Now you have a new word and a new dictionary.”

Grange leader Bill Bemis said he’s “amazed at how much and how fast kids are learning today. We are glad to contribute something to that process!” Bemis also suggested parents of homeschooled children should contact the school for their child’s dictionary.

Garland Grange has been providing dictionaries to students in the area for a eight years. Members also make an annual trip to Harmony Elementary School with their presentation and books. The Grange conducts a popular public supper series and other fundraisers throughout the year to support their community service program. Many of the students were familiar with the grange located on Oliver Hill Road in Garland, having been there for various community events ranging from Garland Days in the fall to hosting town meeting in March.

The Dictionary Project has provided over 17 million dictionaries worldwide since starting in 1995. The project is executed by local civic organizations and has become something of a signature program for the grange. For more information on the Dictionary Project, please contact or visit