SOUTH GLENDALE — As soon as the 2-inch thick, glossy dictionaries were in their hands, Muir Elementary School second-graders began weight lifting.
“I can use it a lot of times,” second-grader Erik Mirzayans said. “There are a lot of words.”
By the end of the day, Glendale Sunrise Rotary donated 345 children’s dictionaries to second-, third- and fourth-grade classes Thursday as part of the club’s mission of community service.
“It’s really user-friendly with a lot of pictures,” said Paul Moeller, a Rotarian. “We know a lot of kids who have kept them and handed them down to siblings.”
The students immediately began showing off their vocabulary chops.
“Here’s a knight,” said Zhorzhik Hovakimyan, a second-grader. “He’s a guy who fights in the old times.”
Then he flipped some pages to a section about dragons.
“A Chinese dragon? They celebrate it on the new year,” he said.
Muir is a Title I school, which means it has numerous students on free or reduced lunches, a poverty indicator. Cerritos Elementary School is another Title I school, where the Glendale Rotary Club donated 60 dictionaries in December.
Muir is a high-performing school with an Academic Performance Index score of 815, where scores above 800 are the goal set by state leaders. The school also satisfied all of its growth targets among its student demographics on the Adequate Yearly Progress, a federal accountability measure, according to the California Department of Education.
Students showed off their smarts before Principal Linda Junge distributed the dictionaries. In an assembly, she asked students about the purpose of the books.
“When you find a word, it helps you,” second-grader Yuri Kakuev said. “And it has pictures so you know the word.”
The dictionaries were designed for young children, but among the hundreds of pages were some adult concepts.
Casey Kanony flipped through the Ds, stopping on “debate,” a word Casey was unfamiliar with. He sounded out the words in the definition like, “discussion.” Casey said he doesn’t debate with his friends, but he argues.
“[Debate] is a better word for it,” he said.
Second-graders are in varying stages of reading and writing, and teachers said the dictionaries will play a pivotal role when students read stories and research vocabulary words.
“It’s fascinating for them to see print,” said second-grade teacher Shant Der Megerdichian.
One of the academic standards in second grade is using reference materials, and the donations will be help meet that goal, Der Megerdichian said.