Project promotes literacy throughout Norwich schools

She didn’t know what the word meant, but 8-year-old Jenna needed only a few minutes to find a definition for “civic” in the bright yellow dictionary she received Wednesday morning at John M. Moriarty Elementary.
It was on page 62, she told a third-grade classmate.
“There’s lots of words that I don’t know and this will help tell me what they are,” Jenna said. “I like it.”
Jenna and 449 other third graders enrolled in city schools went home with new dictionaries distributed by the Norwich Rotary Club in a community service project that has become one of the organization’s staple events of the year.
“We really love to do this, because when you go into the classroom, their eyes just shine,” said Rotarian John Bolduc, CEO of the Norwich-based Eastern Connecticut Association of Realtors. “It’s among our primary community service programs.”
The Norwich Rotary Club has handed out thousands of dictionaries to school-age children for more than a decade. Officials receive the books from The Dictionary Project, a Charleston, S.C.-based nonprofit that teams with civic organizations across the country to help promote and improve literacy, reading comprehension and creative thinking by equipping children with dictionaries.
Last year, The Dictionary Project reached more than 2.3 million students. While not limited to third graders, program organizers focus on that grade level because all formal education from that point forward is based on a child’s ability to not just read, but comprehend as well.
That’s why Rotarian Gary Young urged the children at Moriarty to look up and define the word “civic” in their new dictionaries.
“You can learn a lot from this little book here,” Young told the students.
In another classroom, Young and fellow Rotarian Mark Sciola were welcomed with “thank yous” as they handed out the reference guides. Young reminded the group to share their dictionaries with relatives.
Angelina, 7, took a minute to process the sheer volume of newly discovered words at her disposal.
“I didn’t know there were so many of them,” Angelina said.

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