By Eugenia Moskowitz
Members of the Kiwanis Club of Washingtonville distributed free dictionaries to every third grader in the Washingtonville Central School District on three days late last month.
The Dictionary Project was financed directly through the pumpkin and chrysanthemum sale the Kiwanis held in Washingtonville in October, which made it possible to purchase the approximately 300 soft cover trade-paperback dictionaries, which were handed out to all third grade students at Little Britain, Round Hill and Taft Elementary Schools.
Retired Washingtonville elementary school teachers Betty Ann VanLeeuwen, Peggy Lavery and Linda Standish, along with Beth Sweatt, distributed the dictionaries to eager students who happily wrote their names inside the front covers and investigated their books as Betty Ann taught them about what a dictionary is and what it does. “A dictionary is actually an adventure,” she said. “Not just words to look up, but lists of presidents, states, countries and maps. Whole worlds are in there.”
She told the children about Noah Webster and the first dictionary he compiled in 1828, made up of 700,000 words back when there was no standard compilation of American English. She said that we honor his effort by calling dictionaries based on his research “Webster’s dictionaries.” She then elicited responses from the students about what a dictionary could be used for, and the answers came quickly: “Meanings of a word”
“Part of speech!”
Pick up a copy of the Friday, Dec. 4 edition of the Orange County Post to read the full story.