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Rotary dictionary project a hit with Maui Prep third-graders

By Staff | Oct 8, 2015

Maui Preparatory Academy’s third grade class is pictured with Lahaina Sunset Rotary volunteers (from left) Melissa Crawley, Nancy Montoya and Jim Fahnestock, as well as teacher Nikki Meenzhuber. 

NAPILI – “R.E.S.P.E.C.T: Find out what it means… “

Third grade students at Maui Preparatory Academy did just that on Thursday, Sept. 24, using dictionaries donated to them by the Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset.

Each child received a student dictionary to use at home and at school as part of Rotary’s commitment to promote literacy and learning.

The students were asked to look up three words: active, bold and respect. Whoever found each word the fastest read its definition to the class and earned a prize.

The prizes were a hit, but the real reward was exercising a skill rarely used in the digital age.

Avery Kirkham shows off her new dictionary.

“It’s good for them to learn the skills of how to use a dictionary, since they are more likely to do everything online. It’s a dying tool,” said their teacher, Nikki Meenzhuber.

“Some may view it as being ‘old school,’ but in an age of over-stimulation of our kids due to excessive screen time, it is nice to have a solution beyond telling students ‘go look it up online’ or ‘use spell-check.’ “

“The dictionaries are a welcome resource in our third grade,” added Principal Ryan Kirkham.

It didn’t take long for the students to have fun using their own new dictionaries in a friendly competition.

“It was great to see that moment of happy discovery on the kids’ faces when they found the word we asked them to look up,” said Nancy Montoya, Lahaina Sunset Rotary director of youth services.

“By the end of the activity, they were racing each other to be the first one to put their hand up and read the meaning of the word.”

Educators see third grade as the point where learning to read becomes reading to learn. Lahaina Sunset Rotary’s participation in the dictionary donation program reflects the club’s commitment to support the local learning community by encouraging children at this level to be active readers, creative thinkers and resourceful learners.

All 11 Maui County Rotary clubs participate in the annual program, donating dictionaries to nearly all third grade students in the county.