AE/MS Third Graders Get A Special Literary Treat

Arlyne French returns to Andover to distribute dictionaries.

By Jane Slayton, AE/MS Principal
Bernice Nowell and Arlyne French (center) visited the AE/MS third grade on November 19 to hand out dictionaries for each student to keep. Arlyne’s son and daughter-in-law founded the program which today donates millions of dictionaries to third graders around the world. Photo: Charlie Darling.

November 19 was a very special day at AE/MS. Each third grade student received their own dictionary, courtesy of the Blackwater Grange. That in itself is a special event, but it gets better: The dictionaries were personally delivered this year by Bernice Nowell of Andover and Arlyne French, a former Andover resident who now lives at Havenwood in Concord. Bernice Nowell has diligently delivered dictionaries to Andover and other communities for years, but having Arlyne as part of the presentation was a treat for Bernice as well.

Bernice Nowell of the Blackwater Grange #152 and Arlyne French, whose son and daughter-in-law founded the dictionary program. Photo: Charlie Darling

The Dictionary Project happens not only in Andover but has become widespread. Dictionaries are given to third grade students in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, several Canadian provinces, and at least 15 other countries around the world. Over 18 million children have received dictionaries since the inception of the program in 1995.

Arlyne French, mother of the late Arno French and mother-in-law to Mary French, was at AE/MS and was able to witness firsthand the joy that Arno and Mary’s Dictionary Project brings to the third grade classes. Students enthusiastically received their dictionaries and immediately started looking through them.

Thank you letters were written the next day and sent to Blackwater Grange in care of Bernice Nowell and Arlyne French. In addition to Thanksgiving well-wishes, the letters were filled with examples of some of the treasures students found in their new dictionaries.

Adam Barry: My favorite part is that all the Roman numerals up to 100 are in the dictionary.

Bryson Cate: My favorite sections are weights and measures, sign language, and the longest word in the English language.

Julianna Baptiste: I like all the information on the planets. I never knew the world weighed so much.

Tyler Champagne and Aaron Weeks: We love the maps!

Lily Menard: My name is in the dictionary. It is so cool!

Cassidy Piroso: I liked reading about the presidents.

Are you curious what the longest word in the English language is? Ask a third grader, and they’ll look it up for you.

AE/MS is grateful for this generous gift bestowed upon third grade students on an annual basis. It has become a tradition the AE/MS community looks forward to and appreciates greatly.