Rotary Club Gifts Dictionaries to Mahwah Students

Each year, the Bergen Highlands/Ramsey Rotary Club distributes free dictionaries to third grade students throughout its service area, and recently began the program for this school year. The Club started this program eight years ago, and have since distributed dictionaries annually to Betsy Ross, Lenape Meadows and George Washington Elementary Schools in Mahwah. They also provide dictionaries to the third grade students in the elementary schools in Ramsey, Upper Saddle River and Allendale, distributing nearly 7,000 dictionaries since the program’s inception. This past year they visited 26 classes in seven elementary schools. The idea for this project started in Savannah, Georgia in 1992. A non-profit organization was formed in South Carolina to manage the project and since 1995 they have distributed 14,000,000 dictionaries throughout the United States. After The Wall Street Journal published a story about the project in March 2002, the Dictionary Project took on a national purpose and expanded its mission to include students in the 50 United States. The program is typically implemented in the third grade each year, since this is the age at which dictionary skills are usually taught. Educators describe third grade as the time when a student transitions from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn. Literacy is one of six areas of service that are very important to Rotary International and many clubs around the country have adopted this program. Dictionaries are paid for by the Club through its fundraising efforts.