Words for Thirds

<I>The Eagle/Sandra Gubel</I><BR>Makayala Capon, at right, expresses appreciation to Jessie Lewis, for her new dictionary. Lewis is a member of American Legion Auxiliary Post 77. At back, Trenton Kidd, at left, and Kolby McDaniel thank Mary Ellen Brooks of the Mt. Vernon Grange. Both organizations provide many Grant County third graders with tools to encourage literacy.

CANYON CITY - American Legion Auxiliary Post 77 and Mt. Vernon Grange recently provided pupils at five schools - Long Creek, Monument, Dayville, Humbolt and Seneca - with dictionaries of their own, as part of the annual "Words for Thirds" service project they've been doing for at least a decade.

The Prairie City Grange did the same for students at Prairie City Elementary.

At the presentation at Humbolt Elementary on Oct. 12, close to 50 books were eagerly opened. Teacher Nate Young posed words for the students to find, such as "astronomical."

One could say an astronomical number of dictionaries have been given out through The Dictionary Project, in the hopes that children will become more literate and find greater success in life.

The effort has distributed more than 14 million dictionaries. As one of its many community projects, the National Grange has given out than 100,000 of them.

Jessie Lewis got the American Legion Auxiliary Post 77 involved in the project, and it was joined by the Mt. Vernon Grange. Lewis, who is the chairman for the Post's youth programs, told students she read a newspaper article on The Dictionary Project, and was impressed with the effort to provide young people with dictionaries. Most students do not have their own dictionary, nor do they have access to one in their homes.

To participate fully in society and the workplace in 2020, citizens will need powerful literacy abilities that until now have been achieved by only a small percentage of the population, according to the National Council on Teachers of English Standards for the English Language Arts.

The Nation's Report Card notes that students who reported having all four types of reading materials (books, magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias) in their home scored higher on average, on national tests, than those who reported having fewer reading materials.

Educators say the third grade is the year in which students transition from learning to read to reading to learn.

At the give-aways last week, students were happy to learn they could write their names in their new books, and use them at school and at home, as many of their older brothers and sisters have done.

Humbolt third-grade teacher Marilyn Berry said her class had already been doing a recent writing project, using a few extra dictionaries from last year.

"This is your chance to discover words," said Mary Ellen Brooks, secretary of Mt. Vernon Grange, told students. Brooks was accompanied by Grange member Harriet Crum.

"We hope this makes you better citizens and leaders for tomorrow," added Brooks.

While the American Legion Auxiliary primarily supports programs for veterans, it's also involved with youth programs such as Boys and Girls State, said Ruth Harris, president of the post auxiliary. Members Phyllis Farley and Carrie Neely were also on hand to help.

"You young people will be in charge of this community and this country in future years. We want you to be as educated as you can be," added Harris.

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