LYNN — Christmas was weeks ago, but students in Nikki Spyropoulos’ class at the Harrington Elementary School still got presents Wednesday.
Thanks to the generosity of Equitable Bank and the Rotary Club, more than 1,300 dictionaries were distributed to third graders in the Lynn Public Schools. It’s the 10th anniversary of the project that has put nearly 14,000 dictionaries in the hands of students.
In Room 206, Don Smith, Equitable’s executive vice president, put Spyropoulos’ kids to work. He asked them to find the word “shore” in their new dictionary.
“I found it,” said 8-year-old Yadier Alvarez.
A handful of students already knew the word had multiple meanings. It not only described the coast, but it can also be used to support something from falling, Kevin Robles-Barrios, 9, read aloud to the class.
Michelle Grzela, an Equitable Bank vice president, told the children the book not only offers definitions, but offers fun stuff at the end of the guide.
“Does anyone know what Braille is?” she asked.
Isabella Alves-Ruiz’s hand shot up.
“It’s how blind people can read by using their hands,” the 8-year-old said.
Stephen Upton, the Lynn Rotary president said supporting schools is a focus for the organization and the dictionary project happens nationwide.
“This is perfect for Lynn because some children don’t have a whole lot of books,” he said. “This is theirs to use at school and take home this summer.”
While the world has shifted to electronic devices for spelling, definitions and math, Upton said an old fashioned dictionary is a must.
“You won’t always have a computer,” he said. “This is something kids can put their hands on. I believe in books. Electronics will never replace them.”
Smith said Equitable contributes $3,500 annually to pay for the books.
“We support literacy projects in Lynn, it’s just part of what we do,” he said.
State Rep. Brendan Crighton told the children that not matter what line of work they enter, knowing how to read is key.
“Even at age 34, I still open up the dictionary and look up words to find their meaning,” he said. “This is a valuable tool, not only now, but for the rest of your lives.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Catherine Latham and Harrington Elementary School Principal Lissa Jussaume helped distribute the dictionaries to the third graders.