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Gift of Dictionaries

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Photo courtesy of Alison Place

Community Contributed

By Alison Place

Rotary Clubs and other civic groups throughout the nation donate the funds to provide dictionaries to third graders in their respective cities. Aptly called The Dictionary Project, the goal of the program is to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners by providing them with their own personal dictionary, according to the project’s website.

More than 130 Molokai third graders were the recipients of this gift from the Kihei Rotary Club. On Dec. 19,  Stuart Karlan, President of the Kihei Rotary Club, caught the morning Molokai Ferry from Lahaina to Molokai and personally distributed dictionaries to the students at Kaunakakai, Kilohana, Kualapu`u and Maunaloa.

Karlan was enchanted by the students at each school. Shortly after passing out each dictionary, he encouraged each student to write their name in the space under the statement, “This dictionary belongs to…” ensuring they understood the dictionary was theirs to keep.

“The dictionaries are a gift to each student to use at school and at home for years to come,” states The Dictionary Project website. “Educators see third grade as the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn, so we encourage our sponsors to give dictionaries each year to children in the third grade.”

The students were excited about receiving these early Christmas presents. Most of them were unaware that the dictionaries provided more than spelling and definitions. Karlan “walked” them through the dictionaries, showing them where they could find interesting facts like the longest word in the English language (1,909 letters!).

Some students were intrigued by the Braille and the American Manual Alphabet (sign language) alphabets. Others were surprised to see that the dictionaries contained biographies of all 44 presidents, information about all 50 states, and the solar system, the U.S. Constitution, and maps of the world.

“We can do our homework with this!” cried RJ Kaili-Kalua from Mr. O’Brien’s class at Kaunakakai School. Reina Cabanting patted her dictionary and said softly, “This is cool.”

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