Rotary gives new meaning to elementary education


Sewell-Anderson School third-grader Rylie Hart looks over her new dictionary courtesy of Rotary Club of Lynn.


LYNN They are 21st-century children, well-versed in using online learning tools, but third-graders Haley Lange and Sidney Paul thumbed eagerly through brand-new, 540-page dictionaries Wednesday distributed to the Sewell-Anderson School students by Rotary Club of Lynn members.

“With your own dictionary, you don’t have to ask your parents for help,” said Paul as she dug into her copy of “A Student’s Dictionary.”

Rotary President Raymond Bastarache and fellow club members hand out dictionaries annually to third-graders in all public schools in keeping with a Rotary commitment to spur learning among Lynn youth.

Wednesday’s distribution gave Bastarache a chance to return to the Pine Hill school where he was once principal.

He invited the 26 students in third-grade teacher Angela Maggs’ class to write their names on the front, inner page of their dictionary before giving them a guided tour through the book’s features, including Braille and American Sign Language charts, information on U.S. presidents, states and nations around the world and the spelling of a 1,909-letter word defining a science formula.

Equitable Bank President Donald Smith helped Bastarache and School Superintendent Catherine Latham distribute the dictionaries, assuring each student with a smile, “It’s yours to keep.”

Smith said promoting literacy is an Equitable “pet project” and a “way to give back to the community.” Sewell-Anderson Principal Mary Panagopoulos said visitors to the school make an impression on students by devoting their time to the school and contributing to students.

“It shows everyone in the community cares for them,” she said.

Maggs admits she frequently uses a computer to look up word meanings or spellings, but she occasionally delves into a dictionary to learn more about a word. Dictionaries are an important tool, Maggs said, in teaching elementary school students how to read and write.

“It’s important for them to have their own dictionary,” she said.

Having a dictionary at home means Sewell-Anderson student Mercy Lopez might stop turning to a computer for help learning new words.

“Right now I ask Siri,” she said.

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at

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