Dictionary project underway in Stephens County

 The Stephens Education Literacy Foundation wrapped up its annual dictionary project Tuesday.

Through the project, the foundation distributes dictionaries to each third grader in the Stephens County School System. Each student is allowed to keep his or her dictionary even after leaving the third grade.

Foundation executive director Lisa Prickett said the dictionaries help the students develop abilities in reading, writing and creative thinking.

‘If you have a third grader or have had one, you know that this is a tough year,’ Prickett said. ‘They start expanding their vocabulary, and what is required of them as far as their writing skills. Also, they start learning a lot about the world around us. They have civics lessons and multiplication tables and cursive writing.’

The dictionaries, she said, help students improve their reading skills well beyond third grade, helping to ensure literacy.

Illiteracy is a problem in Stephens County, in surrounding areas and nationwide, Prickett said, and failure to address it results in many other issues.

‘According to the U.S. Department of Education, 44 million adults in the United States cannot read well enough to read a simple story to a child,’ she said. ‘So, this shows you that if (children) do not get the basic skills, this will follow them. Also, the cost of illiteracy to a business or the taxpayer is $20 billion per year, according to the United Way.’

The dictionary project does more, Prickett said, than put a book in a child’s hands.

It allows the literacy foundation, she said, an opportunity to speak with the third graders, who this year represent the high school class of 2020, about the importance of graduating from high school.

‘We calculate how many more years until they graduate and what year it will be,’ she said. ‘We talk about why it is important to graduate. I take a cap and gown and dress some of the students up in it and talk about it.’

The dictionary project has gone on for about five years now, Prickett said.

She also thanked the Hart Electric Membership Corp. Foundation for its support through the Operation Round Up program.