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Rotary donates dictionaries to Norvelt Elementary

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted by David Hiebert
Third grade girls from Norvelt Elementary School enjoy their new dictionaries presented by the Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant. Students are, from left: Julia Bungard, Trinity Graft, Emily Marne, and Elizabeth Pomarico.
Submitted by David Hiebert
Third grade boys from Norvelt Elementary School listen to Doug Hauser, literary chairman from the Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant, talk about service, Rotary and the origins of The Dictionary Project. Students in the first row are, from left: Chase Thompson, Jacob Baker, and Braedon Weaver.

Three rooms of third-grade students at Norvelt Elementary School recently received free dictionaries through the generosity of the Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant.

This was the beginning of a literacy season where about 150 dictionaries will be presented to students in four area schools. Doug Hauser, Norvelt, is the chair of the local Rotary literacy committee.

“When thinking about how to get the students' attention,” said David Hiebert, committee member, “I thought I would work with the phrase used by Fallingwater in their elementary education program, ‘Wright in our backyard.' I wanted to talk about homonyms, words that sound the same, but have different spellings and different meanings.”

The group of third-grade students and teachers met in the cafeteria of the Norvelt school, the students from the three rooms filed in, and took seats. But there was no backboard. Rotarian Hiebert did not know how to talk about Wright if he didn't have a chalkboard to write on.

“Trying to connect,” he said, “I asked one of the students how old they were.”

“Eight,” came the answer.

When starting the presentation, Hiebert asked, “How many of you are eight years old? How many of you ate lunch? How many of you ate eight bananas for lunch?” In that way, he introduced the context of how homonyms show up in our language.

The dictionaries used in the program include a gazetteer, which is a kind of geographical dictionary. It also includes an updated diagram of the solar system, showing the eight planets and three dwarf planets. Students were are particularly interested in the last page of the book, on which is printed the longest word in the English language: A 1,909 letter word which is the name of an organic chemical.

Third-grade teachers at Norvelt Elementary are Barb Wipkey, Kelly Domasky, and Carol Custer.

The dictionaries used locally are produced by an organization called The Dictionary Project Many Rotary clubs use these books to promote literacy in the United States. Rotary also works to reduce hunger, increase literacy and health, reduce war, and promote cooperation around the world.

The four area schools serviced by the Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant are Norvelt Elementary, Donegal Elementary, Ramsey Elementary and Armbrust Christian School. Other area schools are served by other Rotary clubs including the Rotary clubs of West Newton, Scottdale, Connellsville and New Stanton-Youngwood. Committee members are Hauser Hiebert.

Anyone interested in be involved in Rotary should contact a local Rotarian. The Rotary Club of Mt. Pleasant usually meets at Nino's in Laurelville on Tuesday for lunch.