GUILFORD, Maine — Piscataquis Community Elementary School third-graders were the audience for Valley Grange’s Dictionary Day recently. The students’ visit to the Grange hall in Guilford included several special moments. Grangers were particularly proud and pleased when Kyle Bagley received dictionary number 1,000, representing eight years of the Grange’s support of the Dictionary Project.
“This is absolutely the best program,” said Grange member Nathalee Marsh, while straightening up after the children boarded the bus to return to school with their shiny new dictionaries. “It’s so satisfying to know we are contributing to these kids’ futures.”
The presentation featured Eric Boothroyd as a Union sergeant of the Civil War era. Students learned that had they lived in those times, they might have been inducted as musicians even at their young age. When the sergeant played “Yankee Doodle” on his fife, one student exclaimed, “Hey, that sounds just like Barney!”
Sixth-graders Billy Griffith, Alexandra Huff and Adam Bagley attended the event with their well-worn dictionaries from three years ago to explain how the dictionaries have helped them. “I’ll be doing homework at my kitchen table and then be like, ‘Oh, I don’t know how to spell this,’ so I’ll run over to the shelf and it’s right there,” said Billy Griffith.
Project coordinator Walter Boomsma said that the first third-graders to receive dictionaries from the Grange are now juniors in high school. “I recently bumped into a parent who reminded me of that,” he said. “And she told me that the dictionary still occupies a prominent spot on the bookshelf in her daughter’s bedroom. This is a project with long-lasting results.”
Valley Grange provides the dictionaries to three school districts each year. Students from SeDoMoCha Elementary school visited the Grange hall on Nov. 4 to receive dictionaries, and on Nov. 18 a team of Grange members traveled through SAD 41 to visit elementary schools in LaGrange, Milo and Brownville.
Parents of home-schooled third-graders are encouraged to contact their local elementary school in order to be included in the program.
Community Service Chairwoman Mary Annis said Valley Grange fosters a number of projects that involve children. “Just several days ago these same students were introduced to this year’s Bookworm Program,” Annis said. “And on October 22 we collaborated with Penquis to host a Harvest Supper to benefit the Piscataquis Santa Fund.”
“The schools love having us involved with their programs and the kids. And we love being there,” Boomsma said.
To learn more about the Grange and its programs, visit valleygrange.wordpress.com.