Blackfoot Rotary promotes literacy

 Blackfoot Rotary members have been visiting local schools this week distributing personal dictionaries to third graders. It is all part of The Dictionary Project, which encourages the nation`s youth to practice good reading and spelling habits and gives them the tools to do it. Third grade is a critical point in a student`s learning. The vocabulary of the students at this age is becoming quite advanced. Teachers are encouraging the use of proper spelling, and the good, old fashioned dictionary is the perfect tool. Rotary members in the Blackfoot Club have embraced the idea. Nearly 700 dictionaries will be distributed this week in Shelley, Blackfoot, and Snake River area schools.

Jasmine, a third grader at Longfellow Elementary in Idaho Falls, and daughter of Rotary Club member Christian Utley, has been helping her dad with the project. As part of Ms. Holmgren`s third grade classroom assignment, each student has to pick a project that helps benefit the community. The students may choose any project that they would like to do. When Jasmine heard about the project her dad was working on through Rotary she asked if she could help. She has been putting the stickers on the dictionaries and will be going to the schools to help distribute the books this Friday in Shelley. There are nearly 200 third graders in the two schools in Shelley alone.

Rotary International is one of the country`s oldest and most prestigious service organizations. It is most famous for its fight against polio world-wide. Along with this cause, Rotary is instrumental in providing funding for clean water wells in third world countries and many other national and international projects. Locally, the Blackfoot Rotary Club sponsors an annual scholarship to Blackfoot, Snake River, and Independence Alternate high school students. Two years ago, the Blackfoot Club became involved with the local production of the Nutcracker Ballet. 2009 will be the third season of what is becoming a holiday tradition. Money earned from the Nutcracker provides funds for the various projects the club endorses. This year`s Nutcracker will be performed on December 19th at 7 p.m. at the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center.

Rotary is comprised of local residents, business leaders, and retired citizens. Lead by Club president Taylor Ball, the Blackfoot Rotary Club is always looking for new members to join their cause. If you would like to visit a meeting, come by Stan`s Restaurant on any Tuesday at noon.