The gift of words

Rotary Club participates in annual dictionary distribution

Gifts are a big part of the holiday season. But the Camas-Washougal Rotary Club likes to kick it off a bit earlier with its Gift of Words project.

The dictionaries are given to third-grade students, and the effort is part of a national undertaking by the service club to promote literacy in local communities.

Locally, the dictionaries are presented by representatives from Rotary along with Camas School Superintendent Mike Nerland and Washougal School Superintendent Dawn Tarzian.

As the books are handed to the students, they quickly thumb through the pages, write their name on the bookplate and attempt to pronounce the longest word, which, according to the 524-page “A Student’s Dictionary,” is an unpronounceable medical term with 1,909 characters.

“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.”

The Gift of Words Project targets third-graders specifically because it has been identified as a key year for language development and vocabulary improvement. 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.

The dictionary also includes over 150 pages of supplemental information, with key features such as the Constitution of the U.S., the Declaration of Independence, brief biographies of all U. S. presidents, world maps, and information about all 50 states, countries of the world, and the planets in the solar system. It ends with the longest word in the English language.

The project in Clark County is sponsored by Beaches Restaurant, iQ Credit Union, Columbia Vista Corporation, Diana Acuesta Designs, Columbia Litho and Clark County Rotary Clubs.

In total, $11,000 was raised to help provide dictionaries to students at more than 60 schools.