Elementary students benefit from dictionary program

ESCANABA – The vocabularies of third-grade students grew Friday after members of the Escanaba Elks Lodge presented them with dictionaries.

The dictionaries Webster Elementary students received were part of the nationwide Dictionary Project, which has provided the books to more than 18 million children since 1995. The project was adopted locally only a few years ago by Elks Lodge No. 354 of Escanaba.

“We just want to say thank you to the Elks. They’ve been doing it for a few years and the kids just love it,” said Webster Elementary School third-grade teacher Donna Orzel.

The program costs between $1,200 and $1,400 per year to operate, not including the cost of gasoline needed to deliver the dictionaries to every third grade class in the Delta-Schoolcraft ISD.

Between all the schools in the district, around 600 children will receive dictionaries through the program this year.

Webster Elementary was just one of the schools receiving dictionaries through the program, and many of the students had never used one before the Elks’ visit on Friday. However, some of the students had used small “dictionaries” in the classroom during second grade.

“(I used a dictionary) when I was in second grade. It wasn’t big. It was just like A, B, C,” said third-grader Zowie Linden.

However, the dictionaries used by the students in second grade were nothing like the bound books that they were given by the Elks.

“It was a dictionary folder,” said third-grader Brandon Dahl of the dictionary he had used in the second grade.

While the Elks were delivering the dictionaries they took time to talk to the children who would be using the books both at home and in the classroom.

“They were talking about what the Elks are,” said Charles Field, who had received his dictionary earlier that day.

The Elks also asked students to look up the word “benevolent” – a reference to the full name of the the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks – in the dictionary. While many of the children who had received their dictionaries in the morning had forgotten the word over lunch, the students remembered the word’s message of goodness.

“Something, something, being good. Something about being good,” said Abbagail Juhl, trying to remember the definition of the word.

Elks members will continue to deliver dictionaries to third graders until every third grader in the ISD has received a dictionary of their own.