BEN HILLYER / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez Rotary Club member Sarah Smith helps McLaurin Elementary third grader Saniyah Malone find the word beneficial in her new dictionary donated to all third graders.
BEN HILLYER / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez Rotary Club member Sarah Smith helps McLaurin Elementary third grader Saniyah Malone find the word beneficial in her new dictionary donated to all third graders.

Natchez 3rd-grade students taught definition of service

Published 12:10am Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NATCHEZ — Twenty-four hands shot straight up Monday afternoon as April Wallis’ third-grade students found the word “flaw” in their new dictionaries.

The 366-page, yellow dictionaries were delivered and passed out by members of the Rotary Club of Natchez Monday morning to eager students at McLaurin and Frazier Elementary schools.

By the end of the week, the Rotarians plan to visit all the elementary schools in Natchez and Vidalia to pass out the learning tools as part of an annual service project that began nearly a decade ago.

BEN HILLYER / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — McLaurin third grader Trevon Washington flips through the pages of his new dictionary given by the Rotary Club of Natchez Monday morning.
BEN HILLYER / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — McLaurin third grader Trevon Washington flips through the pages of his new dictionary given by the Rotary Club of Natchez Monday morning.

“One of our main avenues of service is literacy, so this is kind of our way to contribute and give back to the community,” Rotary president Dr. Carrie Iles said. “This is actually a state Rotary Club project, and our goal is to have a dictionary for every third grader in the State of Mississippi.”

The 150 dictionaries passed out Monday at McLaurin were a welcome addition to the elementary school classrooms, Wallis said.

“We have a class set here for them to use, but this meant so much more to them that they were able to write their names in it and be able to take it home,” Wallis said. “We’ve been looking up all kinds of words since they got their new dictionaries.”

The first word the Rotarians asked the students to look up Monday was “service,” which is the first word in the organization’s motto, “Service above self.”

“We talked about how important service was and also looked up ‘beneficial’ and talked about how this experience would benefit and help them with their school work and their lives,” Iles said.

“We really wanted to let them know that Rotary is about giving to others and that you really get something back when you help other people.”

Third-grade student Mickeyia Johnson was excited to have another tool to help her learn.

“I like to look up different words and learn the meaning of them,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know what service meant, but we looked it up and found out.”

Rotarian Sarah Smith visited McLaurin Monday and said seeing the faces of the students as she handed out the dictionaries made her day.

“They were just so excited and glad to have someone there participating with them,” Smith said. “We told them now they can look up a new word every day.”