Valley Grange and local schools celebrate Dictionary Day

GUILFORD — A team of Valley Grange members led by Walter Boomsma is delivering over 200 dictionaries to local area schools during the next two weeks. “We have a lot to celebrate,” he noted, “despite COVID restrictions, third-graders in the area will have a Dictionary Day that focuses on tools, words, and the importance of learning.”

The Grange began its “Words for Thirds” Program in 2004 by giving a dictionary to every third-grader at the then Guilford Primary School. Over the years, the program has expanded to include Piscataquis Community, SeDoMoCha, Brownville, Harmony, and Ridge View elementary schools. Boomsma estimates the Grange has distributed nearly 3,000 dictionaries since. “But it’s really not about the numbers. One kid, one dictionary. The stories are many, but each one is personal. A dictionary can make a big difference in a child’s life.”

Observer file photo/Stuart Hedstrom
DEFINE PATRON — Students in Diane Stephen’s SeDoMoCha Elementary grade 3 class look for the word patron in their brand new dictionaries in 2019 at the Valley Grange in Guilford. Despite COVID restrictions this fall, more than 200 dictionaries will be distributed to area schools by a team of Valley Grange members.

Since in-person visits are not possible due to safety concerns, the Grange has produced a short video for teachers to use while passing out the dictionaries. In the past, some schools have made field trips to the Grange Hall, and Grangers have visited schools to make the gift personal and emphasize the importance of people helping each other.

Jim Annis, president of the local Grange, rarely misses a presentation. “I love how excited the kids get. These dictionaries are truly empowering, and the program has become a rite of passage. It takes some creativity, but we’re glad we can continue the tradition.”

Boomsma noted that these sorts of links and cooperation within the community are exactly what the Grange hopes to facilitate. “We’re all about community service,” he said. “We’re also looking for people who share that passion, whether it’s working with the schools and children or seniors or other community organizations.”

He cites the Grange’s Blistered Finger Knitters as an example. “As a result of their efforts, we’ll be distributing some knitted hats and mittens along with the dictionaries. These are usually given to the school nurse for kids who need a little help staying warm.”

The Dictionary Project is based in North Carolina making low-cost dictionaries available to organizations like the Grange to aid third-grade teachers in their goal to see all their students leave at the end of the year as good writers, active readers, and creative thinkers. Extra dictionaries are always available for new or home-schooled students or students transferring in during the school year. Parents of home-schooled third-graders are urged to call their local school for additional information.

For information about the Grange and its many opportunities, call Boomsma at 207-343-1842 or Mary Annis at 207-564-0820.

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