Kiwanis Club volunteers Jack Lapoint (center floor) and James Henry (right) pose with third-graders for teacher Christi Castro to photograph after giving the kids new dictionaries from the Kiwanis Club for the last time. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Kiwanis club hands out dictionaries for the last time

EVERETT — He told kids that, with a little curiosity, they could be the smartest people in the world.

Jack LaPoint has coordinated the Silver Lake Kiwanis Club’s annual dictionary giveaway for the past 10 years. This year, he and other club members delivered 2,000 dictionaries to third-graders from 26 local elementary schools.

His recent trip to Silver Lake Elementary School was the club’s last. The club disbanded at the beginning of October. Membership had dwindled to nine people.

Though the club had disbanded, the members wanted to fulfill their promise to the kids. LaPoint and other volunteers continued visiting schools until all 2,000 dictionaries were delivered.

“Every year, we always wonder with the advent of new computers if dictionaries are going to be a useful item,” LaPoint said. “So far, they like them.”

LaPoint talked with students about a different kind of computer, a “super computer” that doesn’t require electricity. He pointed to his brain.

“You have a later model,” he told the kids. “You have to take care of it. You can’t bang it around.”

James Henry, a former club member, passed out the dictionaries. One boy held the book and stared up from under his thick-rimmed glasses.

“Can I keep this?” the boy asked.

Henry nodded. The boy opened the front cover and wrote his name.

“This is our gift to you,” LaPoint said. “You will use it your whole life, in third, fourth, fifth grade, middle school, high school, college,”

This comment dropped jaws.

LaPoint flipped through the dictionaries with the class. He pointed out the biographies of U.S. presidents, a copy of the Constitution and one of the longest words in the English language. It’s the chemical name for tryptophan, which is found in turkey meat.

Orion Belleza, 8, wanted to learn how to pronounce the word that is more than 1,000 letters long. He planned to ask his parents first thing when he got home.

Falyssa Ly, 8, was interested in the map of the United States. She has been working on her geography skills.

Though LaPoint is no longer part of a formal organization, he is searching for ways to continue the dictionary giveaway. He hopes to start a new club in Mill Creek.

Over the past 10 years, LaPoint has received letters from third-graders saying they look up something new in a dictionary almost every day. It boosts their curiosity, and that is essential in the learning process, LaPoint said.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

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