Monday, Jan. 5, 2009 | 4:45 p.m.
With only a little bit of help, third graders at C.T. Sewell Elementary School learned that Betsy Ross, not Betsy Rosy, sewed the first American Flag.
Elks Lodge No. 2802 of Henderson members Ron Gesell and Bill Wiseman were at Sewell recently to present each third grader with a dictionary.
The giving of "A Student's Dictionary" to third graders is part of a nationwide Elks program with a goal of providing a dictionary to every third grader in the country.
"Third grade is when they really start to use sentence structure and begin to use longer words," Gesell said.
This year the nine lodges in Southern Nevada will hand out about 7,000 dictionaries, which are purchased by the Elks.
Lodge No. 2802 has been providing the books to third graders at Sewell and Robert Taylor Elementary School for the past three years.
"We work with the schools with the most need first, but we would like to be able to work with all the schools," Gesell said.
After each student was given a dictionary, Gesell and Wiseman gave a short lesson about how to use them.
They asked the students to look up the first person to sew the American Flag, the state of Nevada, the 41st president of the United States, Roman numerals and the longest word in the English language.
They also asked each student to write their names on the inside cover.
Lidya Abraham, 9, was excited to receive a dictionary of her own. She wanted to look up her last name, because it was the name of a president, she said.
Julianna Howard, 8, first looked up the state of New York. She already knew the state flower was a rose, because it also happens to be her middle name, but she was curious to know the state capital.
The two girls said they were familiar with dictionaries because their mothers, fathers and grandparents owned some but thought maybe their classmates were not as familiar with how to use them.
"I think they are turning the pages too fast," Julianna said.
The third grade teachers at Sewell will incorporate the use of the dictionaries into their lessons now that the students have them.
"That is what we like about the program at Sewell," Wiseman said.
Wiseman and Gesell said Sewell and Taylor would benefit the most from the dictionaries because for a large portion of the students at the two schools, "English is a second language," Gesell said.
Lidya and Julianna both plan to keep their dictionaries with them throughout their school years. The think they will be a big help to them in the future.
Diana Cox can be reached at (702) 990-8183 or [email protected].