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The Gift Of Words

September 1, 2011

ST. MARYS — Area students received an annual visit to their schools where they were presented with a tool that will help them throughout this year and maybe in future years.

The St. Marys Rotary Club presented dictionaries to third-grade students at Grand Lake Christian School, at Holy Rosary School and at St. Marys Intermediate School Wednesday morning.

“We know third grade is a very big year,” Rotarian and Dictionary Chair Jim Harris told the students at St. Marys Intermediate School. “We want to help you out during the year.”

Harris noted the blue books in the boxes that were being passed out by teachers, school officials and Rotarians.

“We came here, and we’re going to give each and every one of you a dictionary,” Harris said.

He urged the students to put their names in their dictionary as soon as they returned to class and noted some of the features in the dictionary.

“You’re going to find words in here,” he said. “There’s also information on the states, the presidents and the solar system.”

Harris noted a feature these specific dictionaries had to offer.

“We’ve been giving these for 11 years, and I think this is the class that’s going to help me pronounce the longest word in the English language,” he said as he flipped to the back of the book featuring the 1,909-letter word.

Chance Caudill, a 9-year-old student in Chris Mastin’s class, said that was his favorite part of the dictionaries.

“I liked the longest word,” he said.

Juli Hertenstein, also a student in Mastin’s class, said she liked the dictionaries.

“I liked getting them,” the 9-year-old said, also noting the longest word. “I can’t pronounce it either.”

Harris said the Rotarians gave out approximately 300 dictionaries during the visits.

“We give one to every third-grade student and teacher,” he noted.

Harris said Dictionary Day has become something the teachers look forward to, and they enjoy using the dictionary in their classrooms.

“It’s been very exciting,” he said. “We know it works. The teachers love it.”

Harris said he got started with the dictionaries when he was president of the St. Marys Rotary Club.

“I had just come off my year as president of the St. Marys Rotary Club,” he said. “The dictionary project was started by a lady named Mary French in Charleston, S.C. She was having success there and wanted it to go nationwide.”

French, Harris said, put together a list of all the Rotary Clubs and contacted each president by letter.

“By the time the letter got to me, I was past president,” Harris said. “I made a few inquiries, I even talked to Mary. I talked to the president of the club, and the president said, ‘We’ve got to do this.’”

The dictionaries the Rotarians didn’t give out Wednesday, he noted, will be donated to the ABLE program.

“We don’t throw them away,” Harris added.

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