Rotary Clubs’ gift of dictionaries is definition of giving

November 14, 2018

Literacy was the word of the day Tuesday at North Aiken Elementary School.

And third-graders could look up the definition in their new dictionaries provided by Aiken County’s three Rotary Clubs: Aiken Rotary, Aiken Sunrise Rotary and North Augusta Rotary.

The clubs’ members distributed between 2,500 and 2,600 new dictionaries to every third-grader and their teachers in public and private schools across Aiken County. The dictionaries are for the students to keep as they continue to develop their reading, writing and speaking skills.

“They’ve gotten to the point where they’re reading and they’re writing, so this is the next step for them to be able to learn those words that they’re hearing every day,” said Steve Black, the chairman for the dictionary project with the Aiken Sunrise Rotary Club. “It’s an encyclopedic dictionary. It’s more than just definitions of words. It’s got the Constitution, countries of the world, Braille. It even has sign language.”

Black said the Rotary clubs have given away about 45,000 dictionaries to third-graders through the years.

“It’s been a neat project. It’s always a joy to see the kids and how excited they are to get them. It might be the only book they have,” he said. “I was talking to a Rotarian the other day who said their son, who had already graduated college, still had his dictionary. It’s something they will keep throughout their lives.”

From kindergarten to second grade, students are learning to read, Assistant Principal Natonia Tillman said.

“Then, when they hit third grade, they go through that crucial time when they’re reading to learn,” she said. “It’s important as they’re developing that language acquisition and building their vocabularies to have the dictionary to help them with their reading and writing as well as speaking.”

Tillman said students at North Aiken Elementary engage in reading and writing activities across all subjects during 90 percent of their instructional time in class.

“Our classrooms are embedded in literacy,” she said. “The students are excited. We look forward to our students using their dictionaries and growing academically.”

Rotary clubs around the world support “education for all children and literacy for children and adults,” according to its website rotary.org.

“It’s so important for us, particularly in the third grade, to plant the seed of learning,” said John Lindsay, the president-elect of the Aiken Rotary Club. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s a large part of Rotary’s literacy program – and it’s fun.”

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