Morristown Rotary hopes new dictionaries will spell smarter kids

Turkeys and pumpkin pie may be on many folks` minds right now. But on a recent November morning, 120 third grade students at the Sussex Avenue School in Morristown were focused on one thing—free dictionaries from the Rotary Club of Morristown`s annual Dictionary Project.

Students lined up in the school gym and learned from Bob Coultas, former Rotary Club of Morristown president, about the importance of learning to use their new dictionaries. He used Rotary`s `four way test` to impart important lessons about truth, fairness and making choices in life that will be `beneficial` to all concerned. All are truisms that Rotary members strive to live by each day.

Across Morristown, other groups of Rotary Club members gathered at Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and Normandy Park–all Morris District schools–as well as the Unity Charter, Peck and Red Oaks schools to present dictionaries to their third graders.

The gift of dictionaries is meant to empower students to become better readers and writers by using this essential reference tool. All told, 528 dictionaries were distributed throughout Morristown schools in November.

`The students should know how to use a dictionary by the third grade and I will work with them,` to make sure they put the new books to regular use, said teacher Christine Kelly.

The Dictionary Project began informally in 1992 in Savannah, GA. It grew substantially upon reaching South Carolina, where school volunteer Mary French and her husband, Arno French, began a nonprofit association in 1995 to supply dictionaries to third graders in Charleston and Summerville, SC.

The board of The Dictionary Project, as it became known, first set a goal of dictionaries for all third graders in South Carolina. After that the idea flew across state lines to include third graders across the United States.

Individuals and civic organizations throughout the country, including Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs and many more, have continued to grow the project by seeking donations from individuals and corporate donors. Bayer Health Care purchased the books for the Morristown Rotary to donate this year.

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