Rotary’s ‘Gift of Words’ benefits local students

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The Camas-Washougal Rotary Club delivered nearly 700 dictionaries to third-graders in Camas and Washougal in December. Here, students at Gause Elementary School look through their new dictionaries.

The Camas-Washougal Rotary Club kicked off its Gift of Words project Nov. 30 at Gause Elementary School in Washougal. The club delivered nearly 700 dictionaries; giving one to every third-grader in Camas and Washougal.

Rotarians across the U.S. participate in the Gift of Words Project to promote literacy in their local communities. The project in Clark County is sponsored by iQ Credit Union, US Bank, Columbia Vista Corporation and local Rotary clubs. In total, $9,000 was raised to help provide more than 5,000 dictionaries to students in 58 Clark County schools.

Out of the 14 regions in Rotary District 5100, the Clark County region gives out more dictionaries than any of the other districts, according to the organization.

Locally, dictionaries were presented by members of the Camas-Washougal Rotary along with Camas Superintendent Mike Nerland and Washougal Superintendent Dawn Tarzian.

“Students are eager to get the dictionaries, and they are extremely proud of them,” Nerland said. “This project is of great significance in the lives of these students.”

As the books were handed out, kids would typically thumb through the pages, write their name on the bookplate and attempt to pronounce the “longest word.” This, according to the 524-page “A Student’s Dictionary,” is an unpronounceable medical term with 1,909 characters.

The Gift of Words project targets third-graders specifically because it has been identified as a key year for language development and vocabulary improvement, according to a press release from Rotary.

“Having a dictionary of their own allows students to have a resource right at their fingertips, one which can be easily stored in a backpack or desk and doesn’t require Internet access.

“Owing to the popularity of this tradition, many of the third-graders’ older siblings still have their dictionaries and remember the day when they were presented,” the release stated.

This year the project included older students from both school districts’ Interact clubs. Interact is Rotary International’s service club for those ages 12 to 18.

The Camas-Washougal Rotary meets at 7 a.m. Thursday at the Fairgate Inn, 2213 N.W. 23rd Ave., Camas. For more club information, visit