Lakota Students Receive Dictionaries from Rotary Club

Article written by Eric Schwartzberg, Staff Writer for the Journal-News

A local non-profit organization is dedicating time, energy and funds raised toward encouraging education while promoting community involvement.

Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty distributed 1,300 dictionaries of “A Student’s Dictionary” this month and last to third-graders in all 10 Lakota Local Schools elementary schools, telling them about the treasure trove of information within.

That includes not just word and their definitions, but also facts about the solar system, biographies of all U.S. presidents, a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, facts about all 50 states and even a key for common sign language words and phrases.

During a dictionary distribution event Tuesday at Adena Elementary, Rotary Club members Anil Marfatia, Susan Hendel and Lourdes Ward also asked students if they could guess the length of the longest word in the dictionary.

“It’s 1,909 letters, and here it is,” Ward said, showing the word and producing astonished gasps that rippled throughout the student assembly.

Marfatia, a Rotary Club member since 1993, said the group commits to projects such as this “because we believe that there is something (more) important than us alone.”

“We believe that the betterment of the community requires some help to the community where the need is there,” Marfatia said. “That way we all live in peace and harmony.”

The group, which traditionally sponsors scholarships and educational opportunities at the high school level, started the dictionary distribution effort last year to expand its reach to the younger grade levels.

Principal Jodi Leichman said her students loved the Rotary Club’s presentation, gift and message.

“The fact that they can connect an active group in the community, that’s helping the community, to the students so the students see beyond the walls of the school, is phenomenal because these kids are going to grow up and go into careers that they may join the Rotary Club and then they can impact the next generation of third graders,” Leichman said.

Adena Elementary third-grader Andrew said he thought the Rotary Club’s effort was “kind of cool” and that he could envision someday joining Rotary to helping out in community efforts, including distributing the dictionaries.

“If I were included in this (club), I would really like to do this because it would be a lot of fun and I like to help people,” Andrew said.

Emma Schriml said it was exciting to get a dictionary and that they could be used to help bridge the gap between people who can and cannot speak because of its basic sign language section.

“I think they’re doing a good job and they should keep doing that,” Emma said.

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