Highlands Ranch Rotary gives dictionaries to third graders

 For the past five years, Highlands Ranch Rotary has selected elementary schools within Highlands Ranch to receive dictionaries. Third graders from Arrowwood, Eldorado, Copper Mesa and Sand Creek Elementary schools were recipients this year.

The dictionaries from Highlands Ranch Rotary are a gift to each third grade student to use at school and at home for years to come. A team of three to five Rotary members commit to deliver the dictionaries to each school. These members personally give each student their dictionary, talk about the Rotary organization and emphasize the importance of using a dictionary to understand new words.

The Highlands Ranch Rotary Club is making a valued contribution with its local Dictionary Project. As one student exclaimed when she received her own personal dictionary, `This is the best day of my life!`

Americans often think of today`s generation of children as too modern, too steeped in the electronic age to be interested in anything as old-fashioned as a paper dictionary. But as members of the Highlands Ranch Rotary Club have found out for four years, passing out dictionaries in a classroom full of third grades generates palpable excitement.

The Dictionary Project (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit) was started in 1992 in South Carolina and became a national program in 1995. Over 6 million 3rd graders across the country have received dictionaries since. With the goal of assisting students in completing the school year as good writers, actives readers and creative thinkers, the Dictionary Project provides a dictionary to each student. Highlands Ranch Rotary started this local project four years ago, distributing dictionaries to two elementary schools. The program has grown each year.

Why third grade? Two reasons: dictionary skills are taught in third grade; but more importantly, third grade is when students make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn.