More than words

Although technology may be playing more of a role in education than ever before, Houghton Rotary is helping local education in a more traditional manner.

For the fourth year, Houghton Rotary recently handed out 213 dictionaries to third-grade students at Houghton-Portage School District, Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area Schools, Stanton Township School District, Chassell Township School District and Elm River Township School District. The program is part of "The Dictionary Project," an effort to provide a dictionary to every student in the United States.

"It’s a great program," Rotary member Debbie Bradford said. "At every single school, every single kid gets their own name in (the dictionaries) and get them personalized."

In the era of spellcheck and Google, some may dismiss the need for dictionaries anymore. However, as Bradford points out, not every student may have daily access to a computer, and these dictionaries have several uses.

"These have Roman numerals in it, a periodic table, standard units of measurements, a list of U.S. presidents, multiplication tables, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution …," Bradford said.

The dictionaries even have maps of the world, a calendar and guides to sign language and Braille, among other bits of data.

"It has so much information in it besides just looking up a word," Bradford said.

According to, The Dictionary Project’s goal is to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers and resourceful learners. The reason dispersal is to third-grade students is "educators see third grade as the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn, so we encourage our sponsors to give dictionaries each year to children in the third grade."

Since fully starting in 1995, The Dictionary Project has given more than 18 million children dictionaries. These dictionaries help not only the students receiving them, according to Bradford, but other family members.

"We heard that brothers and sisters still use their dictionaries," she said.

The Calumet Lions Club also traditionally donates dictionaries to local schools.

For more information about The Dictionary Project, visit