Third-graders in Ramona Unified School District’s elementary schools listened politely as Rotary Club members talked about Rotary, what the service club does in the community and why they were visiting the classroom.
But the students’ eyes were on the colorful paperback books stacked on a cart that the principal had wheeled in as the Rotarians arrived.
For the eighth year, Rotary clubs participating in the Dictionary Project have donated an English dictionary to third-graders in their community. In Ramona, students whose second language is Spanish also have received a Spanish to English dictionary.
The number of dictionaries varies each year, depending on how many third-graders are enrolled in the district. This year, about 420 English dictionaries were presented to students, with approximately 120 Spanish-speaking students also receiving Spanish dictionaries, said Amber Ramirez, Ramona Rotary member in charge of this year’s project. Additional dictionaries are left with the district to give third-graders who may enter the district later in the school year.
Cost to Ramona Rotary was approximately $965.
“That’s free of charge to the district,” Dr. Robert Graeff, RUSD superintendent and a Ramona Rotary member, told school board members recently.
A Georgia woman started the Dictionary Project in 1992, when she gave 50 dictionaries to children attending a school near her Savannah home. The idea grew and organizations such as Rotary refined them.
The dictionaries belong to the students, and Ramona Rotary encourages them to use the reference book throughout their school career. Since many homes do not have a dictionary, students may keep the book in their backpack and use it at home and in the classroom.
Third-graders are learning word and dictionary skills, a reason Rotary selected that class.
In Ramona, Rotarians presented each third-grader in Barnett, James Dukes, Ramona Community, Ramona, Mt. Woodson and Hanson elementary schools with his or her own Webster’s dictionary the second week in September.
Ramona Rotary Club holds luncheon meetings in Sizzler of Ramona at 344 Main St. at noon on Tuesdays. For membership information, contact Bob Vaughn at 760-789-6858.