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GOOD NEWS!: Words for Thirds puts knowledge in kids’ hands

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

Kids pored over their new dictionaries that were handed out by members of the Ravena Grange on Thursday. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

RAVENA — The Ravena Grange each year puts knowledge into the hands of local kids through the Words for Thirds program.

Every third grader at Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary School was given a dictionary of their own last week, one they can take home and learn from.

And the kids couldn’t be more excited — after they received their dictionaries during a special assembly in the school’s cafeteria, they pored over them, looking up words, figuring out the maps and making new discoveries.

“They are so excited — they like to have books of their own, something they can take home,” third-grade teacher Linda Boehm said. “They are discovering dictionaries — we don’t use dictionaries in the classroom that much because we are in a technology age, but they like it. One boy asked if he can take his dictionary home. They really take pride in it and it’s so sweet that the Grange does this for the kids.”

The Ravena Grange has been doing the Words for Thirds program for many years.

“We think this is year 17 or 18, and we estimate we’ve given out about 2,000 dictionaries over the years,” Ravena Grange Vice President Stephen Coye said. “Words for Thirds is a national program. There are different community-based organizations that do this — Elks Clubs do it, Rotary Clubs do it, and there are others. In this area, the Ravena Grange picked up the mantle and we have been doing it here. There are probably several hundred Granges across the nation that do it as well.”

The Ravena Grange handed out 68 free dictionaries to Pieter B. third graders on Thursday. The organization also handed out a few additional dictionaries to third graders in area private schools. The Grange paid for the dictionaries through the group’s fundraising efforts.

A third grader at Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary School shows off her new dictionary. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

“I’m glad the kids were so excited,” Coye said. “I think they are always excited when they are getting something that is for them, and this is something that will be beneficial for them for the rest of their lives. It’s something that they get to put their name in, and it’s something that will be useful for them for years.”

Coye explained to the kids what the Grange is all about, and the opportunities they can take advantage of if they want to join as Junior Grangers.

“The Ravena Grange is a fraternal community organization. Our building is in Coeymans Hollow, even though we are called the Ravena Grange, and it’s been there for over 100 years,” Coye told the students. “One of the things we do is community service, one of them being giving out dictionaries to boys and girls, and the whole reason for this is so that you can learn things. It’s the reason why you are here.”

Junior Grange Leader Ismay Payne encouraged the children to look into the Grange to see if they might want to join the group.

“We are very interested in keeping the Junior Grange going,” Payne said. “The age is from 5 to 14. We do crafts, we have a flag that we have to pledge allegiance to every time we meet, we have snacks after the meeting and we have a camping program. It’s a good organization and we would love any of you children who are interested to come and join us.”

Ravena Grange members, left to right, Jeff Ruso, Jo Downey, Ismay Payne and Stephen Coye hand out free dictionaries to third graders in the Words for Thirds program. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Ravena Grange Lecturer Jeff Ruso said he has been a Granger for years but this was the first time he was able to participate in the assembly handing out free dictionaries. He engaged the kids during the presentation and encouraged them to keep learning — and to ignore one of the words in their new dictionaries.

That word was “impossible.”

“I want you to cross that word out because there is nothing that is impossible for you — nothing,” Ruso said. “There is nothing impossible in the world for you third graders. No matter where you came from, no matter how tall you are, how short you are, how smart you are — whatever — nothing is impossible.”

Students were excited to get their new dictionaries, and dove right in. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media
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