homepage logo

Rotary Clubs present dictionaries to county’s third graders

By Staff | Oct 31, 2017

Thanks to the generosity of the 15 Rotary Clubs, every third grade student in the Lee County School District received a dictionary of their own Friday.

The “Dictionary Project” as helped open the doorway for students to expand their vocabularies for nearly 20 years.

On Friday, students at J. Colin English Elementary in North Fort Myers all received a new dictionary, and they couldn’t wait to open it up and learn new words.

William Barrett, chairman of the Dictionary Project, said the event featured Dr. Greg Adkins, Lee County Schools Superinten-dent, a fellow Rotarian, went well.

“We went through some of the endeavors we took on after the hurricane and helping in other areas locally and internationally,” Barrett said. “Polio has been a longtime focus and the kids had an awful lot of questions.”

Assistant Principal Clinton Garlick said about 75 dictionaries were distributed, as well as several Spanish to English dictionaries for those who speak Spanish.

“When they learned what they can do with them, they were ecstatic. They started looking through it, trying to find new words. The kids are excited about reading and work on their word count every day. For them to look up words they don’t know, it’s a prize for them,” Garlick said. “And it’s theirs, it’s something they can call their own.”

Barrett said many children don’t have the money for a dictionary.

“A teacher told me a lot of these kids don’t have these resources at home or access to cell phones or computers, so this is a great resource they can use in their curriculum and when they’re home,” Barrett said. “They were all bubbly about it.”

Christian McClelland, who’s 8 and loves school, said she loved her new dictionary.

“I love dictionaries, they help you with words. My favorite word is ‘pick up the pace,'” McClellend said. “I also like the longest word in history,” which she tried to share before concluding, “I can’t even say it.”

The goal of this program is to assist third-graders in completing the school year as good writers, active readers and creative thinkers.

A dictionary is perhaps the first and most powerful reference tool that a child should own. Its usefulness goes beyond the spellings, pronunciations and definitions it lists. It is also a companion for solving problems that arise as a child develops his or her reading, writing, and creative thinking abilities.

Students also benefit from an increased self-reliance and resourcefulness inspired by the maxim, “look it up.”

Barrett said the dictionaries have the presidents, the Constitution, state birds, everything, kind of like a mini encyclopedia.

“Their curriculum brings them to the dictionary. At that point they use it on a daily basis, which is why we bring them in this time of year,” Barrett said. “There was one kid looking at the book and trying to do the sign language.”

Since 1999, Lee County Rotarians have distributed approximately 150,000 English and Spanish dictionaries at a cost of more than $275,000.