"We gift this dictionary as a guide and a tool. It will help you grow and expand your knowledge and understanding of words and their meanings." These words are presented at the beginning of a label placed on the inside front cover and personalized with the student’s name on 75 Webster dictionaries that were gifted by the Muncy Rotary to all third and fifth graders at Ward L. Myers Elementary School on Friday morning.
These are the grade levels when the students are learning how to use the dictionary. There are two versions, one for each grade. The third grade receives a more basic version whereas, fifth grade is more advanced. The Rotary is part of The Dictionary Project, which is a national endeavor to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners by providing them with their own personal dictionary.
It began in 1992 with Annie Plummer of Savannah, Georgia when she saw a need in her community. She gave 50 dictionaries to children who attended a school close to her home. Each year money is raised by groups and organizations to buy dictionaries for school children. Since its implementation in 1995, over 16 million children have received dictionaries because thousands of people saw the same need in communities all over the United States.
The Muncy Rotary decided to become a sponsor to help local students improve their literacy skills, and for the past ten years they have visited the classrooms at Myers to hand out the dictionaries. This year six members came to hand out the dictionaries that were ordered from The Dictionary Project in September after retrieving the names and count from principal, Bill Ramsey. "We get donations to cover the cost of the dictionaries," said John Smay, a volunteer with the Muncy Rotary.
According to Rotary member Justin Reis the students learn how to use the dictionary. "They are tested on being able to use the dictionary," he said. The dictionary used with the Dictionary Project includes much more than words and letters. It is a very comprehensive reference tool. There are biographies of U.S. presidents, the Declaration of Independence, maps, weights and measures plus information about the 50 states. Another member, Travis Lane replied, "It’s not just words, there’s also references written in these." The back of the book shows sign language, Braille, and all the planets, plus a 2012 calendar.
"The dictionary gives them something to hold on to," said Mike Klein. "The Webster’s is more authentic with true stuff."
"And the kids are excited to get these. We’ve gotten letters from them."
"They’re still anxious to learn," Reis added.
The Muncy Rotary members volunteered their time to label and personalize the dictionaries. The six members who came to distribute them in the classrooms were John Smay, Sandy Putney, Mike Klein, Justin Reis, Travis Lane and David Wallis.