Busy Grangers and Grange Friends Visited by Grange Angel

In our last Valley Grange Gram, we noted that folks should “not clip their fingernails” before our October Meeting because we would be peeling and sticking labels into over two hundred dictionaries and sorting and preparing knitted hats and mittens for distributions to local schools. Well, an anonymous “Grange Angel” snuck into our hall and had everything finished for us! A handwritten note proclaimed, “glad to help in some small way.”

We do have our suspicions regarding the identity of our angel, but we’ll protect her identity and simply say, “Thank you!”

Anyway, as a result we were able to bag up hats and mittens and are now ready to begin scheduling “Dictionary Days” around the area. For those unfamiliar, on Dictionary Day Valley Grange provides third grade students with their own personal dictionary at Piscataquis Community Elementary School, in Guilford SeDoMoCha Elementary in Dover Foxcroft, Harmony Elementary, Brownville Elementary, and Ridgeview Elementary in Dexter. Thanks to our Blistered Finger Knitters we also provide a bag of mittens and hats–usually entrusted to the school nurse– for use with students in need.

Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange Program Director, noted that distribution “may be a little different this year.” Historically Grangers have made person visits to schools and, in some cases, third graders have made field trips to visit to the Grange Hall on Guilford Center Road. “We’re still working with the schools on some ideas,” he noted. “At a minimum, we’ll provide a prerecorded video explaining how we hope the kids will use their dictionaries. We’ll also explore the idea of a ‘virtual’ classroom visit.”

Folks in the area who might like to become an angel have a number of opportunities that don’t necessarily involve sneaking into the Grange Hall, according to Mary Annis, Community Service Director. “We definitely can use more knitters… this is not a one time need–we often get requests for more mittens and hats as the winter lingers on. Yarn donations are also helpful and we can often supply yarn to our knitters.”

Prospective Community Angels can get their wings by contacting any member of Valley Grange or attending a meeting. “COVID has changed some things but it is not going to stop us,” Boomsma noted. “We are always looking for opportunities to serve and strengthen our communities. And that means we are always looking for like-minded folks of all ages. Let’s fly together!

For information about future projects and meetings, visit the Valley Grange Website at http://valleygrange.com or their Facebook Page.

It’s Teacher Appreciation Day!

We Love Our Dictionaries!

Third-graders at Brownville Elementary School show off their dictionaries. Teacher Mrs. Mills writes, “My students were thrilled to receive their dictionaries. They couldn’t wait to look up information in the back. Almost all wanted to try to say the longest word…. They even used them on an indoor recess day to look up words to use when playing Hangman. I would say they were a hit.”

And here are a few kids from Mrs. Higgins Class… photos are a real challenge with physical distancing requirements but it’s great to see so many “smiling eyes.”

We’re told the kids really enjoyed the video… if you missed it, check it out here.

Dictionary Day 2020

This video was created for teachers of third grade students receiving dictionaries as part of the Valley Grange Words for Thirds Program. All are certainly welcome to watch and listen! Teachers, not that additional resources are available by clicking on the “About the Dictionary Project” tab in the upper left hand corner of the site!

Dictionary Days Are Coming!

Admittedly, we had to get a little creative this year… but dictionaries are being delivered to schools this week! The actual presentation of dictionaries will be completed by third-grade teachers… we’re working on some resources and should have everything ready in a day or two! Stay tuned!

(L-R) Mrs. & Mr. Annis, Mrs. & Mrs. Ricker, and Mr. Boomsma got the dictionaries ready at the December Meeting… Mrs. Engstrom helped but hid when the photo was taken by Mrs. Boomsma! We also sorted hats and mittens to deliver to school nurses for distribution to students who need them, thanks to our Blistered Finger Knitters.

The Words Are Coming!

by Walter Boomsma, Program Director

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of the “Words for Thirds” program… and anyone who knows Valley Grange may remember that we’ve had a very successful program for well over a decade. We provide dictionaries to four school districts every year with two of those districts making field trips to the Valley Grange Hall.

It’s that time of year when we order dictionaries and start planning “Dictionary Days” with our districts. The perhaps obvious question has arisen. “How is this going to work this year?”

The honest answer is “We don’t know yet!” But what we do know is that, one way or another, we will provide our third grade friends with their dictionaries this year. We’re committed to finding a way that works for everyone involved. Things may look a little different–or maybe a lot different but the results will be the same. Every third grader in our area will get their own dictionary. And, as the label inside will say, “This dictionary and all the words in it belong to…”

We’ve already put our thinking caps on and will be coming up with ideas–some may be a little bit crazy–for how to make this year’s program work. Since there are still a lot of uncertainties with how schools will be operating (and things could be different in each district) we can’t make many decisions yet. But in addition to being certain we’ll figure it out, we’ll also be working with the teachers and administration in each district to develop a plan that’s convenient, safe, and as much fun as possible. It’s a difficult but exciting challenge.

From our experience, we know Words for Thirds works best when it becomes a partnership between the Grange and the school(s). This year, more than ever, it will be important to be considerate of the challenges our teachers and schools are facing. We will stay focused on the goal of getting dictionaries into the hands of the kids and work within the restrictions that may be in place. We can do this, we’re Grangers!

This is one Grange Program that we won’t discuss whether or not we’re going to do it. We just have to figure out how we’re going to do it! The words are coming, kids!

August Meeting…

After some pondering, musing, thinking, contemplating, and deliberating, we’ve determined we will have a short meeting on Friday, August 21, starting at 7:00 p.m. No potluck supper. Maybe we can go for ice cream after!

We do have some business to conduct, including a brief discussion of Words for Thirds and approval of the dictionary order. We also may have a group using the hall on Saturday, so we’ll want to do some quick cleaning and straightening of the dining room. Probably no heavy lifting, just sweeping, dusting, wiping things down, etc. If you’re feeling energetic, come early! Thanks for helping Valley Grange stay open and relevant… hope to see you then!

Exploring Traditions and Connections

Here you can watch and listen to the discussion between National Grange Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rio and author Walter Boomsma as they explore some of the topics from the book and what they mean to Grangers and Granges today–especially during the current pandemic.

Walter’s book is available from

It’s a Busy Week!

Just a quick post to review this week’s schedule…

Tuesday, October 22, is PCES Dictionary Day and third graders will be visiting the Valley Grange Hall to receive their dictionaries!

Wednesday, October 23 is Ridgeview Dictionary Day and the Valley Grange Team will journey to Dexter to meet third graders and present dictionaries.

Thursday, October 24 is Bookworm Day at PCES and we’ll start with a kickoff assembly at the end of morning meeting… I wonder who will be the first student to ready with a bookworm?

If you have any questions about these events, let us know!

Film at Eleven!

Valley Grange Dictionary Day with SedoMoCha Third Graders to be featured on WVII ABC 7-Fox 22 News   

Today was Dictionary Day for 75 third graders and their teachers who came to the Valley Grange Hall filled with anticipation. In addition to learning about the Grange, students talked with Captain Jack Battick about the Civil War and how the Grange helped reunite the country when it ended. Program Director Walter Boomsma explained what the Grange does, including what we can learn from the four staves. “When we look at the pruning hook, what are examples of things we might want to prune from our classrooms?” In the course of all this, students encountered some unfamiliar words which necessitated a dictionary. Valley Grange members and bookworms helped distribute dictionaries and the kids, as always, went a little wild with excitement. They not only looked up the unfamiliar words, many searched for their names and other information.

A reporter from WLVI–Fox 22 captured much of the excitement and will air a story about the program tonight on the Six and Eleven O’clock News. The story should also be available on their website tomorrow.

Here is the link to the Piscataquis Observer Story: Valley Grange continues to be the definition of generosity.

Captain Jack Battick talks about the Civil War and the Grange’s role in bringing the country together after it was over.