Rotary donates atlases to fifth graders

On a wintery Wednesday afternoon recently, Rotarian Donna Seibert journeyed across the snow-covered roads of Randolph County to Pickens to complete the Rotary Club of Elkins’ program of giving each fifth grader a Webster’s International Atlas.

For the past six years, according to Rotarian Grace Roy, the club has given each third grader a dictionary. This year, the program was changed to giving atlases. "While the dictionaries were well received by the third graders, I believe giving the atlases will work out better since they were well received also," Roy said.

Roy went on to say that she believed the local dictionary distribution program began in 2004 and was originally a Rotary District-driven (Rotary District 7530) project. "For the past several years including this year, however, the project has been sponsored and funded by the Rotary Club of Elkins," Roy said.

"The fifth-grade students at Pickens School – five of them – were happy to receive the atlases," Seibert said. "Their first exploration of their new tome was to see if they could find their hometown- and they did."

She informed the students, as their teachers looked on, that the atlases were for use in the classroom and at home.

"I hope you will find them useful in your studies about the world and that you will take care of them so that you will have them for many years to come," Seibert told the students.

According to Rotarian Amy Schumacher, who chaired the committee responsible for the success of the program and who made the presentation to the fifth graders at Midland Elementary, one student, as soon as he had his copy in his hands, started looking to see if he could find the place in Qatar where his father is stationed with the U.S. Coast Guard. Suddenly, he shouted out that he had found where his dad was.

"It’s very satisfying to see students enjoy learning experiences," Schumacher said.

Schumacher attributed the success of this year’s project to the help of many Rotarians, especially Roy. The atlases were received from the Dictionary Project ( and, with the help of several other members of the Rotary Club, prepared for distribution by placing the Rotary International emblem in the book so that children would know from whom they were received.

The club celebrated its annual Christmas luncheon on Dec. 6 with a buffet-style lunch in the Rotary room at the Elkins "Y." More than 65 members of the club and their guests enjoyed lunch while sharing seasonal memories with one another.

The club is also engaged in erecting Rotary Safety Signs. The signs, stamped with the Rotary emblem, warn motorists that they are entering a school zone and to be cautious of children who might not be watchful for vehicular traffic. The signs have been erected at each school within the Elkins city limits and are planned to be placed at all schools in Randolph County as soon as weather permits.