February 18, 2018
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Words for Thirds Grange group gives dictionaries to students

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Garland Grange Master William Bemis helps Payton Gilman get into a dictionary. (Photo by Walter Boomsma)

DEXTER, Maine –Third-graders at Ridge View Community School learned how much fun it can be to get into a dictionary as a result of four classroom visits by a “Words for Thirds” team from Garland Grange consisting of William Bemis, Ernest Rollins, and Becca Myers. The local Grange provides a personal dictionary to every third-grade student in the Dexter District in conjunction with the Dictionary Project — a global program designed to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners by providing them with their own personal dictionary.

Students received not only a dictionary, but as Granger Ernest Rollins pointed out in a press release, “You are also getting all the words in it. You can make them yours by learning them.”

Rollins led students through a basic understanding of how to use the dictionary by encouraging them to find and read definitions of words associated with the Grange.

Students quickly discovered the books not only include words and definitions, but also a back section that’s similar to a mini-encyclopedia. Favorite sections included a list of sign language symbols and what’s believed to be the longest word containing more than 1,900 letters. Rollins joked they might find the word on their next spelling test.

Third grader Jennifer Young noted that she was pleased to have her own dictionary because “I can use it when I write …  and I write songs. I’ll use it everywhere I go!” Other students promised to keep their dictionary and use it for a long time, possibly even passing it down to their future children.

Garland Grange “master” (president) William Bemis explained some of the Grange’s history, noting that while “in the past the Grange was all about helping farmers,” over the years the organization has changed its focus to “helping communities by doing projects and providing help.”

One student interrupted him several times to offer that she knew about Garland Grange because “they have really good suppers.” Bemis pointed out this is just one way the local Grange raises funds to purchase dictionaries and provide other support to kids and communities. “We try to help when we see a need or opportunity,” he said.

Grange member Becca Myers volunteers at the school and notes that it’s fun to see the kids really take ownership of their dictionaries and use them regularly. She also notes that parents of homeschooled third-graders also may participate and should contact the school or the Grange to receive a copy.

Information about the Dictionary Project is available online at www.dictionaryproject.org. For information about Garland (and their great suppers) call William Bemis at 924-3537 or Ernest Rollins at 717-7057.