Rotary Club Gets Dictionaries In Hands Of Brick’s Third Graders

Saying that words are one of the most empowering forces an individual can have, the township`s Rotary Clubs recently donated dictionaries to children in all of Brick`s elementary schools.

`Here in Brick we want to create terrific writers, active readers and creative thinkers,` said school administrator Mary Ann Ceres.

Ceres, the former superintendent of schools for the district, currently serves as administrative consultant to the school district, as well as the president of the Brick Township Lunchtime Rotary Club.

The Brick Township Lunchtime Rotary Club provided dictionaries for third graders in the town`s public schools, while the Brick Township Morning Rotary Club provided dictionaries for the town`s third grade students in private and parochial schools.

The local Rotary Clubs are a segment of Rotary International, the world`s first service charitable service organization with over 1.2 million members who volunteer their time and talents to further its motto of `Service Above Self.`

`Any activities we run, we run to benefit others,` said Ceres. `We`re entirely a volunteer organization here in town.`

Battling childhood illiteracy has been one of the more pressing causes taken up by both the local and international Rotary Clubs.

`One of the issues we hoped to address a few years ago was the issue of literacy,` said Ceres. `This year, the president of Rotary International, D.K. (Dong Kern) Lee, developed a slogan, and that slogan is `Make Dreams Real.` His dream is for children all around the world, to safeguard them in their homes and in their communities, to attack infant mortality, to attack childhood mortality and to attack illiteracy.`

The Rotary Clubs` donations were part of the national literacy campaign known as The Dictionary Project. Created in 1995 out of Charleston, SC, the Dictionary Project`s goal is to improve the reading ability and comprehension of all children across the United States.

`It`s well-known that third grade is probably a turning point in terms of literacy development for young people,` said Ceres. `That is why the Rotary Club in our township has combined with the Dictionary Project nationwide. Some of the funds that we raised in Rotary, we used to purchase a dictionary for each third grader in our school district.`

During the school board`s final meetings of 2008, Ceres held a dictionary donation presentation, bringing up representatives and students from the elementary schools` Early Act Clubs to symbolically accept the dictionaries on behalf of the entire district-wide third grade class.

`We are unique in terms of Rotary in that we go below the high school level, and we have created what we call Early Act Clubs,` said Ceres. `These are young people in the elementary schools who, with their teacher advisors, model their programs through Rotary. They derive no personal benefit, but they run projects to benefit others.`

Ceres pointed to one of the recent charitable initiatives by the Early Act Club of Lanes Mill Elementary School providing services to a local adult care facility.

The students thanked Ceres and the town`s Rotary Clubs for their generous donations.

Despite the advent of computers and the Internet, Ceres believes there will always be a benefit to a handheld dictionary, which allows students to easily flip through the pages and explore the English language at any given moment.

`You know, some people think dictionaries are going to become obsolete with technology, but if that were the case, students` learning would be very limited,` said Ceres. `Computers help, but sometimes a dictionary helps more.`

With the English language now in the hands of the district`s third graders, Ceres is excited to see the seed of knowledge grow at their fingertips.

`On behalf of the Brick Lunchtime Rotary, I want to thank our Early Act advisors, and I want to thank all of our third grade teachers throughout the district,` said Ceres.

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