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Published: Monday, 2/14/2011

Maumee Students term Rotarians' gift as 'sweet'

In Maumee, each receives thesaurus in hope of boosting vocabulary, literacy

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Among the students receiving thesauruses and dictionaries from Richard Carr, right, on behalf of the Maumee Rotarians, are Jordan Saleh, left, and Molly Brady. Among the students receiving thesauruses and dictionaries from Richard Carr, right, on behalf of the Maumee Rotarians, are Jordan Saleh, left, and Molly Brady.
JETTA FRASER / TOLEDO BLADE Enlarge
When Sylvia Washburn asked a classroom of fourth graders for words that mean the same as "sweet," she got the definition of "generation gap."

Instead of thoughtful, considerate, cute, charming, delightful, or adorable, the quick word from the lips of a tween: "Awesome!"

"Sweet" has been slang for "awesome" for awhile, but apparently not long enough to be considered for inclusion in books presented to students by the Maumee Rotary Club.

"It's not in here," several students said as they flipped through a thesaurus, a gift from the Rotarians.

Each fourth-grade student in the Maumee district has received a dictionary and a thesaurus from the Maumee Rotary Club since 2006, when Superintendent Gregory Smith, then-Rotary Club president, selected literacy and the book giveaway as the focus for his term. Maumee Rotary has continued the presentation of the books each year since. Annual cost to Rotary is about $900 for books for about 200 students.

Books have been or soon will be presented to students at Maumee's Fairfield, Fort Miami, Union, and Wayne Trail elementary schools, and St. Joseph's parochial school.

Making the presentation to Wayne Trail students last week were Mrs. Washburn, a Maumee Rotary Club member since October, and Rich Carr, a Rotarian for nearly 25 years.

Mr. Carr asked students what they want to be when they grow up, and hands shot into the air to respond: singer, cartoonist, veterinarian, teacher, policeman, firefighter.

With each career choice mentioned, Mr. Carr asked if that job would require a person to know how to read. Heads bobbed yes. A policeman would need to know how to read laws. A chef would need to know how to read recipes.

Mr. Carr, a lawyer, told students that he is reading five hours a day as he works on a case. He reads a lot, too, in his position as Maumee city council president. And Mrs. Washburn, a retired teacher, read many books and stacks of homework papers during her career, and she reads documents and other materials as part of her duties as Maumee school board president.

Wayne Trail fourth-grade student Grace Blochowski, who wants to be a newspaper journalist, said a dictionary is a valuable tool "when you want to look up words."

When one student remarked that he wanted to be an astronaut, a classmate said such a job wouldn't require much reading, considering there aren't any books to read on other planets.

Cameron Roberts, 9, who wants to be a nuclear power plant worker, said she was thrilled to receive such a wonderful gift from the Rotarians, and she plans to put the books to good use as she explores the meaning behind words and finds more descriptive words to use in her writing.

When Stevie Bobash said he wants to be a doctor, Mr. Carr teased that he thought maybe the student wanted to be a Green Bay Packer football player. Stevie was wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey in anticipation of the Sunday Super Bowl matchup between the two teams. Other students had donned Steelers gear, too, and they were hoping to get the chance to describe a Super Bowl victory over the Packers ... such as sweet. Or awesome.

Mr. Carr, who drew a few startled gasps when he said that yes, he once was a fourth-grader at Wayne Trail, recalled how he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Even at the tender age of 10 or so, he knew he wanted to be a lawyer.

He said he received a good education at Wayne Trail, and he was able to reach his goal of becoming a lawyer, saying he now tries cases all over the United States.

He told the fourth-grade students that they, too, can achieve their career goals, and he said he hopes they use their new books often and get a lot out of them.

Mrs. Washburn said the students can use the gifts to become great writers.

Paige Calopietro, 10, said the books "will be good for when I do writing.

They will help me with writing and all," and Nick Pedigo, who wants to be an archeologist, said he plans to use his dictionary and thesaurus to become a better student.

Parris Hurt, who turns 10 on Feb. 17, was excited to have her very own dictionary and thesaurus. "I am going to look up everything," she said, skimming through pages of synonyms and antonyms.

Others in Stacey Snyder's and Jennifer Baker's classes welcomed the Rotarians' gifts, including 9-year-old Tre Graff, who said using a dictionary and thesaurus "can make your writing more exciting."

Angelina Alvarado is looking forward to using the new books to help her with her spelling skills.

The mere mention of spelling triggered the same question from several classmates: "Do you think teachers will let us use the dictionaries during spelling tests?"

Nice try, but nope.

Absolutely not, by no means, negative, never, nix, no way, not at all, not by any means.



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