Annual dictionary campaign taken to schools

Third graders in Barrow County received dictionaries of their very own recently thanks to the ‘Dictionary Project’ started 11 years ago by Shelia Hawthorne.

“It is a pleasure to see that Dictionary Week anticipation has not dwindled in 11 years," said Hawthorne. “Sponsors, faculty and students eagerly await Distribution Day and the smiles and excitement of the students far exceed the work involved. I am proud to have the title ‘Dictionary Lady’ in Barrow County.”

The Dictionary Project is a nonprofit organization designed to raise money to provide a dictionary for third-grade students in public schools. Third graders are targeted because that is when dictionary skills are usually initiated.

Director of the project, Mary French, started the project in South Carolina in 1995, and it has expanded into several other states.


Shelia Hawthorne initiated the project in Barrow County through the Omicron Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, an educational society. She was president of the group that first year and Delta Kappa Gamma donated all of the $1,100 in funds except $300, which was given by an anonymous donor to provide the 754 dictionaries.

"We wanted to give the children dictionaries every year," explained Hawthorne, "but realized we would have to get other civic organizations involved as sponsors."

Since its beginning, other local civic groups have stepped up to the plate to sponsor a school. Fifteen sponsors paid $140 this year to provide one school with dictionaries. A total of 1,097 Encyclopedic Dictionaries and 87 English/Hispanic ones were given out.

Stancil and Petree Family Dentistry was a new sponsor this year co-sponsoring Statham Elementary with the Winder Lions Club. Other sponsors and their schools included: Auburn Lions Club, Auburn Elementary; Winder Kiwanis Club and the Winder Barrow Coalition for Adult and Continuing Education, Bethlehem Elementary; Pilot Club of Winder and Woodmen of the World, Bramlett Elementary; Winder Noon Lions Club, County Line Elementary; Winder Barrow High School Student Council and Barrow County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, Holsenbeck Elementary; Rotary Club of Winder, Kennedy Elementary; Apalachee High Student Council and Beta Zeta Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa, Yargo; and Omicron Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, College Career and Preparatory Academy. The CCPA received 2 regular dictionaries and 10 English/Hispanic ones for research purposes.

“You should have seen their faces and enthusiasm”, said John Duckworth, President of the Winder Lions Club, speaking about the delivery at Statham. ““Whenever you have a chance to meet and speak with six 3rd grade classes, it’s a treat.”


Besides word definitions, the Encylopedic Dictionary includes maps of the world, description of each state, biographical sketches of each president, information on countries, copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and conversion charts for weights and measurement.

Barrow County is now on the National Dictionary Project website at www.dictionaryproject.org. For further information or to become a sponsor, visit the website or contact Hawthorne at OMyShelia@aol.com.