Club donates dictionaries

In a world of smart phones, laptops, and virtual classrooms, the Rotary Club of Flagler County is going old school.
The community service organization recently donated more than 1,000 dictionaries to the Flagler County Public Schools district with the volumes earmarked for third graders.
Ken Neu, a Rotary board member, said the group has been participating in the Dictionary Project for "eight or nine years" and includes charter schools in the donation.
"We’ve always targeted the whole third grade," he said. "We added the charter schools three years ago."
Neu said the Dictionary Project is a national effort and not specifically a Rotary program. He said the project founders selected the third grade for a reason.
"The third grade is when students stop learning to read and start reading to learn," he said.
Flagler County Rotary president Rick Staly said the club focuses on three or four key areas and one of the most important is education.
"We have several projects focused on education," he said.
The Dictionary Project was created in 1992 by Savannah, Ga. resident Annie Plummer, who gave dictionaries to 50 children at a school close to her home, according to information provided by Flagler County Rotarians. The effort went national in 1995 to provide third graders a dictionary to keep as their own. Neu said the response from teachers has been overwhelmingly positive."We did a survey of the schools whether the dictionaries were still needed," he said. "All the teachers said it was important for the kids to actually have something in their hands."
Staly said statistics have shown that many of the students hold on to their dictionaries for a long time.
Flagler County Schools Assistant Superintendent Jacob Oliva, who was on hand earlier this week at a Rotary luncheon to receive the donated books, said the local effort is much appreciated.
"I think this is fantastic," he said. "When we can actually hand something to every student, it’s going to interest them in learning."
Oliva said the donation "helps motivate our kids" and said the response from students is always positive.
"You can see their eyes light up (when they receive the dictionary), and teachers are able to build on that," he said. "It’s just a positive impact."