Winona Rotary Provides Free Dictionaries to Area Third-Graders

Winona-area third-graders this week awaited an early holiday gift: a free dictionary, just for them. Thursday and Friday, members of the Rotary Club of Winona supplied and delivered free dictionaries to every third-grade student – public, private and charter – in Winona County.

They did it as part of the club’s dictionary project, now in its ninth year, designed to help promote literacy among all children.

Rotarians Eric Johnsrud and Derek Madsen were at Jefferson Elementary STEM School on Friday morning, where they visited three third-grade classrooms to hand out the dictionaries and show the students how to use them.

Their first stop was Kirstin Schultz’s room. Johnsrud and Madsen stood before the group and told them a little bit about Rotary and the importance of service before they passed out the dictionaries.

They talked about the Rotary Four-Way Test, printed on a sticker in the front page of the book — Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

They walked the class through the gazetteer in the back – featuring geography, math facts, historical information, and more – and then put the students to the test.

“Who knows what they want to be when they grow up?” Johnsrud called out to the class. The students waved their hands excitedly in the air – a veterinarian, a firefighter, a dietitian, a gymnastics coach, they said.

Johnsrud wrote the words down on the smartboard, slyly inserting some spelling errors.

“I think he might have a few misspellings in there,” Madsen suggested with a smile.

Then, he led the students to try to help Johnsrud correct his mistakes, starting with “gymnastics.”

The third-graders flipped through the pages in search of the correct spelling – but not without taking a few detours along the way.

“I found ghost,” one girl yelled to a friend across the room. “Page 177!”

“Did you find God?” another whispered to her neighbor.

Eventually, one student in the back found the word in question and, finger pointed to the spot on the page, spelled it out loud for the class.

The group went on to correct a couple of others – veterinarian and dietitian – before they answered questions and headed on the next classroom.

But not before a big thank-you from the class.

Schultz said her students always look forward to getting the dictionaries – and then enjoy using them all year.