Rotary Club of Ventura South distributes dictionaries

 In an effort to help local teachers with vocabulary and grammar assignments, the Rotary Club of Ventura South distributed 250 dictionaries recently to third-grade students at Will Rogers, Portola and Junipero Serra elementary schools in Ventura.

Each year, the club buys and distributes the dictionaries as part of its ongoing local and international philanthropic projects, which include supporting the Ventura County Library’s Adult Literacy Program, Boys and Girls Club of Ventura, FOOD Share and the Rotary International Foundation.

"The dictionaries are produced and published by the Dictionary Project located in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina," explained Marilyn Scott, past president of Rotary Club of Ventura South and chair of the dictionary distribution committee. "They are a nonprofit that produces the dictionaries for Rotary Clubs that want to purchase them at a very low cost — $1.70 each — for free distribution."

Because the Rotary Club of Ventura South has a history of supporting the county library’s literacy program, distributing dictionaries to local schools seemed like a natural effort to pursue, Scott said.

"The students love the idea that it’s their very own book and see the value as they have already learned about dictionaries and how to use them," Scott said. "The teachers love the project because each student has the same dictionary and giving assignments using the same dictionary makes it easier for them."

Additionally, about one-third of each dictionary has "ready-reference" material, such as a profile of each state in America, a profile of each United States president, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, weights and measures, the planetary system, maps of the world and short profiles about each country.

"When we distribute the dictionaries, we talk about Rotary and the importance of community service with them," Scott said. "They seem to understand the idea that there are people and groups in the community that care about their future and well-being."

When the dictionaries were distributed at Junipero Serra Elementary School, "I talked to students about the things that Rotary does internationally, like sending doctors out to help kids with facial deformations," said Jim Sather, principal. "But here at home it’s really neat that the Rotary shows the importance of literacy and reading by giving every third grader a dictionary. My hope for the kids would be that someday they might go to a Rotary meeting and join and remember how the Rotary reached out to them at home."

For some of the students, having their own dictionary is particularly significant "because they don’t have one of their own," Sather added. "It’s not about the fact that you can’t afford the dictionary — it’s about the fact that it’s handed to them by someone else, someone who cared enough to show up."


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