Rotary hands out dictionaries to Mville students to bolster literacy efforts
August 28, 2008 · Updated 10:56 AM
MARYSVILLE Pumpkins usually ripen in October, but for 1,000 third graders in the Marysville School District a unique variety came to fruition last Friday, near the end of February.
The Marysville Noon Rotary sold pumpkins during the month of October to raise funds for the Pumpkins for Literacy project. This year the money bought childrens dictionaries for every third-grader in the district; the Sunrise Rotary took care of the 300 Lakewood School District third-graders.
On Feb. 23 Rotarians fanned out to the districts 10 elementary schools, distributing the colorful, hardbound dictionaries to students. At Pinewood Elementary the entire grade gathered in the gymnasium to collect their lexicons.
To succeed in todays world you are going to need to read and write, said Rotarian Paul Jay, whose son Zane attends Pinewood. He wanted the students to know that the gift isnt supposed to sit on a shelf. Their first task was to sit down and look up the word literacy. We want you to take care of it and we want you to use it.
Shayla Wilkinson was sitting on the floor while Marysville superintendent Larry Nyland watched her flip through the pages.
Its pretty cool, Wilkinson said.
This was a project of the president of Rotary International, and so the idea then was to do it locally and I think they wrote a grant to the regional Rotary, Nyland said. Its nice, for lot of kids this might be the first book that they own. Its nice, colorful.
He recalled that his grandfather from Sweden came to America and learned to speak English by reading the dictionary, forbidding the speaking of Swedish in the home to enforce the rapid learning. Time and again he would stab a finger at a word in the family dictionary and explain the meaning to family members, Nyland laughed.
For Rotary member Chris Nation, the book is often the cornerstone of a students vocabulary and the gateway to further learning. Thats a big deal for a man who makes his living from words, watching them roll off the presses at his Marysville Printing business downtown.
If they dont understand the words and they are unable to find them, then they couldnt grow with that. The choice was to start at a young age to have them get that instilled into their brains, Nation said. We chose the third grade; that was just a recommendation that came from Rotary International.
Pinewood principal Breeze Williams said the gifts were a boon for her students. Reading is a focus of the entire district and Pinewood librarian Shelley Doty opens the library in the summer so students can keep up their reading skills. Doty made off with five extra dictionaries for the Pinewood book cache, thanks to the Rotarians.
It means an opportunity for students to practice their dictionary skills at home, anytime they are encountering a word they dont know and its one more way to move literacy into the homes, Williams said.
I think its just a great local literacy project. I think Rotary does a great job.
Over the last seven years the Pumpkins for Literacy program has raised more than $110,000 for the Marysville, Lakewood and Arlington school districts by operating a patch at the Plant Farm at Smokey Point.