, Gloucester, MA

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November 29, 2012

Rockport Rotarians give schoolchildren dictionaries, atlases

Rockport Rotarians give schoolchildren dictionaries, atlases

For those of you who grew up purely in the digital age, yes, people still use dictionaries and other reference books, and pupils at Rockport Elementary School got hands-on experience yesterday.

More than a dozen members of the Rockport Rotary Club circled in and out of the school to hand out more than 150 dictionaries and atlases to the children.

As in other years, members of two third-grade classes received new dictionaries, while two fourth-grade classes got the atlases in this annual event.

Third-graders in Joanne Riley’s class burst into joy as if it was Christmas when Rotary Club President Laurene Wessel and other club members marched in to hand out the books.

Pupils immediately began flipping through the pages.

Shannon Whelan, 10, found the sign language reference at the back particularly interesting. She said she communicates with her sister-in-law’s friend through sign language.

“I’m always trying to learn new signs, I think it’s fun,” Shannon said.

Some schoolchildren were shocked in disbelief when principal Shawn Maguire jokingly said the dictionary is due tomorrow as a reading assignment.

The event was also marked by other challenges. Pupils in every class had fun trying to pronounce pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which was the longest word in the dictionary.

The schoolchildren found out Thursday that the 45-letter word is just another name for inflammation of the lungs caused by inhaling a fine silica dust.

Skyla Hannon, 10, wanted to find out what exactly a dictionary was. “A book that lists the words of a language in alphabetical order and gives their meaning,” he triumphantly read out loud.

It was a fun-filled day for fourth-graders as well when Rotarians began to hand out new atlases.

Kai Knudsen tried to locate his hometown in the book. Kai said he was born in Russia, and perfectly pronounced his place of birth, Chelaybinsk.

Peter Tingley, born in St. Petersburg, Russia, had fun comparing distances between and notes about their hometowns with Kai.

Noelle Syrgos-McGinn looked up her home country of Liberia as well, reading population statistics; she added she still has relatives there.

“I hope to visit them some day,” she said.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3455 or

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