Rotarians provide annual ‘Gift of Words’

Camas-Washougal club will deliver 762 dictionaries

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Rotarian John Spencer stands with Cape Horn-Skye third-grade students Brody Davis, Lincoln Connelly and Ellison Wilkins while they display their new dictionaries.

The Rotary Club of Camas-Washougal kicked off its Gift of Words project recently and will deliver a total of 762 dictionaries to third grade students in Camas and Washougal.

Across the U.S., Rotarians participate in the Gift of Words project to promote literacy in their local communities. The Rotary Club of Camas-Washougal sponsors their local project in east Clark County and donated $2,040 to help provide the dictionaries.

The book presentation ceremony includes representatives from Rotary, along with Camas School District Superintendent Mike Nerland and Washougal School District Superintendent Dawn Tarzian. As the books are handed to the kids, they typically 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 their lives.”

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, he noted.

The dictionary includes more than 150 pages of supplemental information. Key features include the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, brief biographies of all U.S. presidents, world maps and information about all 50 states, countries of the world, and planets in the solar system.

It ends with the longest word in the English language.

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 the club. 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.

Rotary International is a service organization with more than 1.2 million members in more than 160 countries. For more information, visit