The gift of words

Rotarians give third-graders in local schools their own dictionaries

Many local third-grade students had something special to share with their parents about the school day last week.

That’s the day they received their free dictionaries from the Camas-Washougal Rotary Club.

Rotarian Molly Coston told Hathaway Elementary School students that club members believe dictionaries are an important resource for all students to have, even in this age of technology.

Coston noted that she always has a dictionary handy at home.

“I use it to look up words for spelling and then I’ll look to see other words around it that I might not have known about,” she said.

She handed out books with Rotarians Linda Haines, Meridee Pabst and Mike Stromme, Washougal School District superintendent. Mike Nerland, Camas School District superintendent, assisted at Camas schools, along with other Rotary representatives.

To demonstrate the fun students can have with a dictionary, Stromme challenged Hathaway Principal David Tudor to see who could find the word “friend” first. Tudor won the challenge, to the cheers of his students, and then read the definition to the group.

Stromme then encouraged the students to be good friends.

Similar presentations to third-grade classrooms took place at all elementary schools in Washougal and Camas, and at public and private schools throughout Clark County.

“The students love receiving their dictionaries and having that valuable resource to call their own,” said Gause Elementary School third-grade teacher Jim Schroeder. “Not only does it help them with spelling and word meanings, but they also discover that there is much more in dictionaries than that, such as information about presidents, maps and other countries. They are always surprised to discover that the longest word in our language has over 1,900 letters.”

According to Coston, Rotarians chose to distribute the books during the month of October in honor of Noah Webster, born Oct. 16, 1758. He was one of American’s founding fathers and whose name is synonymous with “dictionary” in the United States.

In 1928, he published the American Dictionary of the English Language. It is now known as the Merriam-Webster dictionary.