Three local Rotary Clubs, along with the help of the Kiwanis Club of Boone, are participating in the nation-wide Dictionary Project for the second year in a row. The project is a part of a national non-profit agency that is attempting to give every third grade student in the country a dictionary with the help of local sponsors.
The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock and Rotary Clubs of Boone (noon and sunrise) have joined forces to bring resource materials to a total of 738 students.
Third grade students from the county were presented with dictionaries for their own collection at Parkway Elementary School Sept. 2. Additionally, 10th grade students also received an atlas on Monday, Sept. 8.
Jenny Miller of the Blowing Rock Rotary Club gave a short presentation to the 15 and 16 year olds about the importance of reference materials and acquiring knowledge, especially an up-to-date atlas. Miller explained the that choice of an Atlas for the 10th grade students was made because students will be learning more about the larger world outside of Watauga County.
Miller concluded the brief presentation with a few questions for the crowd of students. The geography questions proposed dealt with the largest sea, highest mountain peak and largest countries in population, all valuable bits of information that can be found most easily in a pocket atlas.
Seventh grade students will be presented with Spanish/English dictionaries at Hardin Park on Sept. 12, and fifth grade students will receive thesauruses on Sept. 19 at Valle Crucis Elementary.
All nine schools in Watauga County have participated, and the clubs hope to incorporate Avery County in following years, according to William Parker, the assistant governor for district 7670.
The civic clubs were able to raise nearly $2,000 to pay for the program, a task that the national Dictionary Project is asking of civic organizations across the country in order to complete their goal of giving a dictionary to every third grade student.
The national organization chose those in the third grade to be recipients of dictionaries because `educators see the third grade as the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn,` a spokesperson explained.
The project staff also believes that the starting point for economic and social opportunities is with literacy.
Al Wheeler of the Rotary Club of Blowing Rock is also a big proponent of increased literacy, in the Appalachians especially. A member of the Watauga Education Foundation, Wheeler presented the idea to the civic club and then-superintendent Bobbie Short, who overwhelmingly agreed to support the project.