Valley Grange continues to be the definition of generosity by presenting third-graders with dictionaries

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GUILFORD — Over the last 16 years more than 2,500 third-grade students from across the region have been given a dictionary thanks to the Valley Grange and the organization’s Words for Thirds Dictionary Project. Dictionaries are being handed out to pupils in four area school districts and on the afternoon of Oct. 26 about 40 students in three classes at Piscataquis Community Elementary School traveled across town to the Grange Hall to receive their dictionaries.

With the third-graders gathered on the floor and their teachers and a half dozen Valley Grange members looking on, Valley Grange Program Director Walter Boomsma introduced sixth-graders Jada Lynn Wyman and Kaileigh-Jo Elderkin. Boomsma said the two both received dictionaries three years prior and have been using the books ever since, and they were present as the Valley Grange’s “VIPs.”

“Since you are in third grade you are coming and getting your dictionaries today,” Wyman said, with her dictionary from the Valley Grange in hand. “Do you know how to use them?”

The younger pupils then responded by answering Wyman’s question that they have previously looked up the meaning of words.

“When I use my dictionary I use the words at the top,” Elderkin said. “The first word on the page is at the top and you look from there.”

Wyman said the dictionaries can still be used if the third-graders are not sure of how a word is spelled. “Say you are looking for the word journey, you would go to the Js and then you keep looking and you can find it in the dictionary.”

After hearing from “Captain Jack Battick” who explained he was dressed in a Civil War-era uniform of a U.S. Navy captain, Boomsma said the reenactor was present “because the Grange started right after the Civil War and it was started by farmers.”

“He has a sword, or a pretend sword, and we have tools,” Boomsma said. He said the tools are used during Grange meetings and the students then got to see each tool mounted atop a staff.

Boomsma said the spud “was used by farmers to weed the garden, in the Grange we have these around just to remind us of the importance of gardens and farming.”

The shepherd’s hook is another Grange tool. Boomsma had one student play along by walking alongside the hook as if she was being pulled as a sheep would, as her classmates giggled at the sight.

Boomsma said the pruning hook is a third tool and the fourth staff he showed had an owl on top. “Why would a farmer have an owl?,” he asked, as the third-graders responded that the owl scares off animals to prevent the pests from eating the farmer’s crops.

“We kind of use them to think about how we are going to be as a club, getting rid of bad things like bullying and name calling,” Boomsma said about the various tools.

A representative from each classroom came forward to open a mailbox after Boomsma explained the origin of rural free delivery and the Grange’s work to get this started during the 19th century. “Each class has mail so gather around your teacher, open your mail and read what’s in the letter,” he said.

With the students in three circles, Valley Grange members passed out the dictionaries. “I think we have three words you don’t know what they mean, so you are going to need a dictionary,” Boomsma said.

The classes then looked up the definitions of patrons, husbandry and steward respectively.

“There is a reason you are looking up these words,” Boomsma said. “Grange people are sometimes called ‘Patrons of Husbandry,’ that means we give support to other people and we are giving you support by giving you a dictionary.

“We expect you to be good stewards, that means take care of your dictionaries. Jada’s is still in good condition.”

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
WORDS OF WISDOM FROM A PAIR OF SIXTH-GRADERS — Piscataquis Community Elementary School sixth-graders Jada Lynn Wyman, left, and Kaileigh-Jo Elderkin talked about receiving their dictionaries three years ago from the Valley Grange in Guilford prior to this year’s grade 3 students being given dictionaries during a field trip to the Grange Hall on Oct. 26. Over 16 years more than 2,500 dictionaries have been given by the Valley Grange to students in four area school districts through the organization’s Words for Thirds Dictionary Project.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
CAPTAIN JACK — Civil War reenactor “Captain Jack Battick” shows Piscataquis Community Elementary School third-graders his replica U.S. Navy officer’s sword during the students’ Oct. 26 visit to the Valley Grange in Guilford. The students learned the Grange started not long after the conclusion of the Civil War.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
READY, SET, DEFINE — Near the conclusion of the Valley Grange’s Words for Thirds Dictionary Project presentation for Piscataquis Community Elementary School third-graders on Oct. 26 at the Grange Hall in Guilford the students raced to see who could look up a definition first.

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