Four years ago the Sun Lakes Rotary Club initiated a program known as ‘The Dictionary Project.’ This outstanding program furnishes each third-grade student his or her own personal dictionary as a gift from the local Rotary Club. It contains over 30,000 words with definitions, as well as a reference section that contains the United States Constitution, biographical information on all United States Presidents, multiplication table, information about 170 countries around the world, a description of the solar planets, and on, and on.
Recently a panel of two girls and two boys from the fourth grade at Fulton Elementary School, who had received their dictionaries one year ago, appeared on a panel discussion for the Sun Lakes Rotary Club. They discussed how much the dictionaries meant to them by telling how they use them as resources as they are reading when they come across words they are not familiar with, how they use the reference part of the book to prepare papers required for various classes. It is obvious that they are well used both in school as well as at home.
Fourth grade teachers Marsha Toerman and Stuart Telford, and Principal Susie Jaynes, each spoke about the versatility they have when each student has their own personal reference dictionary. Having them available, among other things, allows the teachers to give uniform classroom and homework assignments knowing that each student has the same materials available. The dictionaries are given to the students personally by Sun Lakes Rotarians who bring them to the school or classroom setting to present them to the students. At the end of the year the students are able to take the dictionaries with them as their personal property, and they often use them for several years.
A lady heads this program up by the name of Mary French from Charleston, South Carolina, who distributes the dictionaries to clubs and organizations throughout the United States, as well as to some countries outside of the U.S. It is her belief that the ability to read effectively and efficiently is the ‘key’ to academic success. Mrs. French raises funds from foundations, corporations, and individuals throughout the nation to help fund this great project. Organizations may purchase the individual dictionaries for about $1.70 each, and it is found that they are comparable to dictionaries costing anywhere from $7.00 to $10.00 each.
The Sun Lakes Rotary Club distributes nearly 4,500 each year to the Chandler Unified Schools, the charter schools, the church related schools, private schools, as well as to all of the schools on the nearby Native-American Reservation. Presently, Rotarian Dwight Grotewold who heads up the program for the Sun Lakes Rotary Club, is in the process of attempting to raise about $9,000. Dwight also serves as the coordinator for the Rotary District 5510, which now gives out, with the cooperation of two other Rotary Districts in Arizona and other organizations, some 90,000 dictionaries yearly throughout the entire state of Arizona. Over 9,000,000 dictionaries have been given to students throughout the United States over the last several years since the program was started.
Anyone interested in learning more about Rotary International, or the Sun Lakes Rotary Clubs, is encouraged to contact Incoming President Morris Johnson at 802-1550, or Rotarian Dean Hudson at 634-5395. This project is just one of many community service, national, and international projects undertaken by the Sun Lakes Rotary Club and Rotary International.
*a note from Dwight Grotewold:
The kids did the panel discussion in front of our 100+ Rotarians. They were soooo good, and they received a standing ovation.