Students excited to receive dictionaries

Three years ago, the Key Peninsula Lions Club initiated a program to provide all third-grade students on the Key with cordless spellchecks – also known as dictionaries, the kind made of paper, bound into a book, with all sorts of facts and data and even correctly spelled and explained words.
The project’s leader, George Robison, supported by fellow Lions, made a presentation at each elementary school on the Key in which he explained how so many words have so many meanings. His key word was “frog,” and he asked the assembled kids to describe what “frog” means.
Most kids described the hopping amphibian, and only occasionally did a child say, “it’s a part of a horse’s hoof.”
“It’s also a word used by seamstresses, by florists, by railroaders and by many other professionals, and all of the meanings are very different,” explained Robison, who had the wholehearted attention of his audiences.
After the show at each school, students wrote thank-you notes to the Lions, explaining just how useful the dictionaries are.
As they helped handing the books out, Vaughn Elementary Principal Susan O’Leary and third-grade teachers Shannon Ganisin, Katherine Moore and Jennifer Payne said they were as excited to get the dictionaries as the kids.
Vaughn student Kaitlin wrote, “I will use the dictionary a lot because I have a hard time spelling. It’s important to me because I’ve never had something so special to me before.”
Classmate Malachi wrote, “It is great! I will cherish it forever.”
At Minter Creek Elementary, the Lions had the enthusiastic support of principal Ty Robuck and third-grade teachers Susan Stone and Wendy Webster.
“I’ve already learned so much,” Minter Creek student Kamren said. “In Arkansas, the most popular bird is the Mockingbird, and one of the elements is hydragyn (sic).”
“It helps me spell,” said classmate Angelique, and Delaney, “learned the longest word in English.”
Jenna learned her name in sign language and that “one googol has 100 zeros in the number.”
Aubrey “learned multication (sic) tables and words for large numbers.”
Allyssa “likes how it teaches you parts of speech and punctuation and other stuff.”
Evergreen Elementary Principal Dennis Nugent wrote, “There was excitement in the room when Lions Club members came. Third-grade students with older siblings had been asking if they were going to get dictionaries this year, too. On the day, students were squirming in their seats to get their very own dictionary to take home. They immediately looked through it to see what they could find.”
Evergreen third-grade teachers Therese Souers and Susan Henderson said they look forward to their students having dictionaries in their own homes. Souers said students bring dictionaries back to class to show what they discovered the night before.
One of Henderson’s parents said her child uses her dictionary to make sure words are spelled correctly while she writes at home.
Evergreen third-grader Evan wrote, “Dictionaries are working good for the whole class; a lot of people use them. I remember when my big brother got his, I knew I wanted one. They make school a hundred times more easy.”
Sierra wrote she, “would bring (the dictionary) to my friend’s house, and one of us would pick a word, and whoever found it first won. When I’m writing at home and need help spelling, I look in the student dictionary.”

Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at

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