The Internet has its place. of course, but for local students, there often is nothing better than a traditional, hands-on dictionary in book form.
And this fall, 1,200 third-grade students in the local area are becoming the beneficiaries of brand-new Webster’s dictionaries, courtesy the Dictionary Project of the Rotary Club of Vienna.
September was Rotary’s Literacy and Education Month, one of the seven focus areas for the international club.
Local Rotarians raised funds for the initiative through the ViVa! Vienna! festival, held over the Memorial Day weekend each year. Club members visit a dozen local elementary schools in the fall to personally present the donations.
“We wait all year for the opportunity to give the dictionaries to the kids,” said Ann Storck, who chairs the local Dictionary Project. “We give a small presentation to the third-graders, and at the end have them recite a ‘dictionary pledge’!”
The effort continued during the COVID era, but only this September returned as an in-person experience.
“We are so glad to be back in person, as the students always show so much excitement,” Storck said, noting that the dictionaries not only contain definitions, but also world maps, the U.S. Constitution and other valuable data.
Rotary’s Dictionary Project began in 1992 in Savannah, Ga., when Annie Plummer presented 50 dictionaries to a school near her home. The program grew, and Plummer raised enough funds to donate more than 17,000 dictionaries in her lifetime.
As efforts expanded, the Dictionary Project became a non-profit organization in 1995. Today, Rotarians from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and 15 countries participate – and collectively have donated dictionaries to more than 31 million children.
The Vienna Rotary Club is part of an international organization with more than 1.2 million members. Locally, the club meets for lunch on Wednesdays.
For information, see the Website at www.viennarotary.org. To attend a luncheon meeting, contact membership chair Richard Irons at firstname.lastname@example.org.