Sun Lakes Rotary Club visits new school, giving dictionaries to at-risk students

Dear Mary,

Yesterday three of us went out to the new Chief Hill Learning Academy which was established for ‘At Risk’ students in our Chandler Unified Schools. It is an excellent school with the latest in the way of equipment and facilities.

We met with about 160 students….40 on the junior high level and 120 or so on the senior high level. All of these students are there because they are falling behind in their academic performance, so this program is designed to bring them up to grade level. Nearly everything is done utilizing computers which I am not certain is a good way to do it. Our Rotary Club is partnering with another Rotary Club to offer adults who will work personally with individual students if it is deemed appropriate. This is in just the formative stage so we are not at all certain as to how it will work out.

The thing that struck me was that I asked each of the groups these questions: 1. ‘How many of you enjoy reading?’ 2. ‘How many of you are reading a book at home at this time?’ 3. ‘How many of you have a dictionary of your own or one at home?’ It was so disappointing that in each of the four groups never more than 6 students indicated they liked reading or had their own dictionary or one at home. I’m telling you this because it just verifies that what you and your staff are doing in furnishing dictionaries for us to distribute to students is ‘right on target.’ They need all of the help and encouragement they can get, in our opinion.

Yesterday it was announced that a new study showed that young people today are spending on the average of nearly 8 hours each day using their cell phones, computers, games, iPods, and on, and on. Their ability to read and communicate is at a bare minimum.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far. I just want you to know how much we appreciate all that you are doing to help young people learn to read, as well as to continue reading. We are glad to be able to assist in some small way to be a part of The Dictionary Project.