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Can you spell enthusiastic? Now they can

On the House: Free dictionaries were given by DL Rotarians to third-graders, who were happy to receive the low-tech devices. Submitted Photo1 / 2
Third-graders in Detroit Lakes were happy to get their very own dictionaries, courtesy of a program sponsored by the Rotarians in Detroit Lakes. Submitted Photo2 / 2

A proud group of 225 Detroit Lakes third-graders are now the owners of their very own, and very thick dictionaries. (That's a noun pronounced dik-shuh-ner-ee, according to the dictionary.)

The students received their gifts via the Detroit Lakes Morning and Noon Rotarians, who hand-delivered them to the classrooms.

"We got a call from our district's literacy coordinator, who let us know that a group called The Dictionary Project wants to provide free dictionaries for third-graders in our school district," said Mike Stearns, a morning Rotarian who helped with the project. "And we thought, 'hmm, that's interesting.'"

Wednesday, Stearns found out just how interesting it was as the children surprised him with their enthusiasm as he handed them the books.

"In an era of technology, where everything is online, it was really fun to see how thrilled these kids were," he said. "We got such huge, real, true 'thank you's."

Although Roosevelt third-graders in Keith Eckhoff's class have used a real, physical dictionary a couple of times in class, it's not the always the norm anymore.

"I asked them if anybody owned their own dictionary and only one out of 25 raised their hands," said Eckhoff, who says kids always get excited about owning their own book -- but when it's this thick, it's even better.

He and the students were also pleased to check out a whole new section of today's dictionary.

"We just got done studying the solar system, and in the back of the book there's all this different information with pictures of the solar system, so they thought it was really neat to make that connection," said Eckhoff.

"It's not just a whole bunch of words," said third-grader Malia McKenzie, there's also lots of other stuff too, like different countries and it shows you how to do sign language -- I like it."

And the students finally got a chance to solve the old question, is "ain't" a real word?

"It's not," said third grader Wyatt Heinlein. "My mom told me it wasn't, so I looked it up and it's really not there." Wyatt also says he'll really not use the word anymore either.

Although local Rotarians didn't have to fund this round of dictionaries, the group that did provide them is encouraging them to fund this project on a yearly basis, which Stearns says he and other members are hoping to do.

"If the Breakfast Rotarians and the Noon Rotarians got together and each chipped in $250, it would be enough to do this for third-graders every year," he said, noting that the group is able to purchase the big books for only about $2 each.

"I'd love to see that happen, because you know, even though some kids have access to every kind of technology out there, not every kid does, and so it's great to be able to provide this to them."