“Let’s see if we can find the word ‘beneficial,'” said Glens Falls Rotary volunteer Janice Holding, as a classroom full of third-graders began flipping pages in their brand new dictionaries. Mrs. Holding and her husband, Andy, had just handed every student his or her own dictionary to keep, as part of the Rotary’s international project to promote literacy.
Mrs. Holding and the students talked about the “Four-Way Test” printed on bookplates inside each dictionary: “Of the things we think, say, or do … Is it the TRUTH? Is it FAIR to all concerned? Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?, and Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”
As students found the word, Mrs. Holding noted that almost a third of the book is made up of reference materials such as tables of weights and measures, maps of the world and information about countries, and even a printing of the Declaration of Independence.
“A dictionary is perhaps the most powerful reference tool that a child can use,” the Rotary organization says. “It helps them with spelling, pronunciation and definitions as well as the development of reading, writing and creative thinking skills. Students benefit from an increased self-reliance and resourcefulness inspired by the maxim ‘look it up.’ Teachers benefit by knowing their students have consistent access to a tool for homework and in-class explorations.”
Several teams of Rotary volunteers are distributing dictionaries at schools around the region this month. Nearly 500 dictionaries are given out community-wide as part of the Dictionary Project. “We appreciate it so much,” said Jackson Heights principal Carrie Mauro.
The Glens Falls Rotary Club has about 140 members who volunteer their time and talent to further the Rotary’s motto: “Service Above Self.” Their volunteer efforts center around clean water, healthcare, and education.