Kiwanis help third-graders learn how to look it up

Jack LaPoint at Mill Creek Elementary on Oct. 11. Photo gallery

No matter what the question, Jack LaPoint has the answer.

“Look it up,” he says. “If you know how to look things up, you can be the smartest person in the world.”

It’s a message LaPoint has been bringing to third-graders for 10 years as part of an annual dictionary giveaway sponsored by the Silver Lake Kiwanis and supported by Sno-Isle Libraries. On Oct. 11, LaPoint and fellow Kiwanian Jill Fraley brought dictionaries and the message to students at Mill Creek Elementary.

“Yes, we’re Jack and Jill and, no, we didn’t plan it that way,” LaPoint says to giggles from the crowd. LaPoint uses humor, but the core of his message is serious. It’s clear his squirmy-but-attentive audience sitting cross-legged on the lunchroom floor is listening when he taps his head and calls it the greatest super-computer in the world.

“And you’ve got one, too,” he says. “Yours is the newer model, but mine is still pretty good.”

Then come the books.

LaPoint, Fraley and the teachers hand out brand-new copies of “A Student’s Dictionary,” purchased by the Kiwanis from the TheDictionaryProject.org. With each dictionary, there is also a “Why Get a Library Card for a Child” and Homework Help brochures from Darlene Weber, Mill Creek Library Managing Librarian. He also provides Sno-Isle Libraries’ Homework Help posters for use in the students’ classrooms. LaPoint is also a Mill Creek Library Ambassador.

“This is a dictionary and it’s yours to keep forever and ever,” LaPoint tells the new owners, some with noses buried in the smell of the new, previously unopened book. “There’s a sticker inside where you can write your name and make this book yours.”

LaPoint introduces the students to their new books, shows them how to find information and pointing out it is more than just a dictionary.

“This book includes the Constitution of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, maps and information about all 50 states,” he says. LaPoint urges the students to look up at least one thing a day, then go home and quiz their parents.

This year, LaPoint will visit more than 20 schools in the area, including all the Everett School District elementaries and about 10 private schools. “We’ll hand out 2,000 dictionaries,” he said.

Despite the obvious enjoyment that both LaPoint and the students get from the program, this will likely be its final year, he said.

“Our Kiwanis club has voted to disband; we’re down to just nine members,” LaPoint said. “I didn’t want to, but that was the vote. I think I’ll go try to start a club in Mill Creek.