More than 3,200 students are receiving the gift of words.
After Rotarians visit Kelly Mill Elementary School on Dec. 19, third-graders at all 20 of the Forsyth County school system’s elementary schools will have received a free dictionary from one of the five local Rotary Clubs.
“The first thing we did was have them write their names in it so when they come home, big brother or big sister couldn’t take it away from them, because it is their dictionary and they were really pleased with that,” said George Pirkle, a member of the Rotary Club of Forsyth County.
The dictionary giveaway, which is in its fifth year, is part of a combined effort between Pirkle’s club and the Rotary Clubs of North Forsyth 400, Johns Creek, South Forsyth and Lanier-Forsyth.
The cost of 1,000 dictionaries is about $15,000. And with more than 3,000 being distributed, “all the clubs really had to be involved because it wound up being too much for any one club to do,” Pirkle said.
Valery Hall, the local school system’s governance and career development coordinator, said one of the district’s initiatives is “infusing literacy skills throughout our curriculum.”
“So this project is somewhat of a tradition now for our students and schools to help leverage this focus,” she said. “From an educator perspective, third grade is typically the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn, so this is the intent behind giving dictionaries.”
When Rotarians hand out the dictionaries, they have the students look up two words.
The first is polio, a disease mostly eradicated across the globe, thanks in part to efforts by Rotary Club International. The second word is generosity, “since Rotary Club is involved in so much community service,” Pirkle said.
Hall said the students showed interest to learn “about what Rotary does in Forsyth and see how great of an impact they truly have.”
“By instilling the importance of business and community partnerships, our students see the true meaning of Rotary’s motto ‘Service Above Self,’” Hall said.
“This is an amazing partnership which would not be possible without our strong base of Rotarians taking the time to visit classroom and talk to students about their vocations, what they like to read, and the importance of working hard in school.”