Representatives from the Essex Junction Lions Club visited the St. Francis Xavier

School third-grade class recently and presented every student with a special edition dictionary to encourage literacy.

Lions Club President Dr. Carmelle Terborgh along with Club Treasurer Doris Maynard told Jeanne Rousseau’s class about the five service areas that are core to the Lions Club mission: helping those with diabetes, preventing avoidable blindness, eliminating hunger, protecting the environment and helping families dealing with childhood cancer.

In addition, the Essex Junction Lions participate in a Words for Thirds program that involves distributing dictionaries to third-grade students in the area. “We love helping our communities in many ways,” Terborgh explained, “and we particularly enjoy encouraging literacy and reading for young people.”

To further this goal, Terborgh and Maynard distributed dictionaries that included a wide range of information, from a list of all U.S. presidents to instructions on American Sign Language to a reference to the longest word in the English language (which contains nearly 2,000 letters). As an extra bonus, Terborgh and Maynard also gave the children cross bookmarks that had been created and donated by another member of a local Lions Club.

The students were delighted by both the books and the bookmarks and wasted no time paging through their new gifts and sharing information with one another about what they found there. Rousseau, the teacher, shared her class’ excitement. “I love reading, and I love anything that gets my students excited about the amazing things they can find in books,” she said. “We are so fortunate to have community partners like the Lions Club to keep the light of learning burning bright” for the children.

St. Francis Xavier School is a Catholic elementary school that serves children throughout northwestern Vermont from preschool (age 3) to eighth grade.