Wearing T-shirts emblazoned with: "Dream, believe, achieve: we can succeed," 78 third-graders at Martin Luther King Elementary sat criss-cross-applesauce.
Vancouver Rotarian Dennis Short stood before the students and asked, "Who was the creator of the first American dictionary?"
A hand shot up. "George Washington?"
The answer Short was hoping for was Noah Webster. Then Vancouver School of Arts and Academics student Brennan Staffieri, portraying Webster, stepped up to explain the cool information the third-graders could find in their new dictionaries. Sure, the dictionaries are filled with words and definitions, but they also have American Sign Language, Braille, the Declaration of Independence, states and their capitals, multiplication tables and other useful information.
"Does it have Texas in it?"
"Yes," Noah Webster said. "Texas is in there."
Wednesday's event kicked off Rotary International's ninth annual donation of dictionaries to third-graders at all 58 public elementary schools in Clark County. The $9,000 project distributes 5,000 dictionaries, thanks to the county's seven Rotary clubs and sponsors iQ Credit Union and Columbia Vista Corporation.
Bob Lewis, owner of Columbia Vista Corporation, told the students that he was given a dictionary when he was in elemen
tary school, and it made a difference in his life.
"When you get to be my age, and you look back, I hope you have really good memories about today," he said.
Then it was time for the big moment. The students lined up, shook a Rotarian's hand and took their new dictionaries back to their classrooms.
King school Principal Janell Ephraim said students use their dictionaries in the classroom and take them home at the end of the year.
"Our mantra is 'King Cubs are college bound,'" Ephraim said. "These dictionaries will help students along that path."