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Dictionaries promote literacy

Three third graders at the Baldwinsville Christian Academy excitedly opened their new dictionaries eagerly taking in the pictures and words.

On Nov. 19, the Rotary Club of Baldwinsville gave dictionaries to third graders in two schools in Baldwinsville, including Baldwinsville Christian Academy. The club also had two students from the exchange program talk about their home countries in addition to Jacquie Olmsted's talk about the dictionary program. Olmsted is a past president and current member of the rotary club. This is part of a three-week distribution.

Every year, for the past 10 years the Rotary Club of Baldwinsville gave dictionaries to all of the third graders that attend school in the Baldwinsville School District, including home and private school, Olmsted said.

This year, the club gave 492 dictionaries, costing about $860. The money for the dictionaries came from the Seneca River Days, especially the duck races, Olmsted said.

The dictionaries include definitions, punctuation, weights and measures, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, maps of the continents, information about the states, U.S. presidents' biographies, and information about the solar system.

"Literacy is really important to Rotary and always has been," she said. "And the main thing is to give back to the community and the world."

In addition to the dictionary program, the rotary club also collects books and school supplies for people in New York and children's books for Africa, Olmsted said.

The dictionary project began about 15 to 20 years ago in Georgia. A woman noticed students in the city never carried books or backpacks. She spoke with the principal and learned the school couldn't afford books for all of the students. The woman then went to the local rotary club where they decided to have a project to buy books. It was too expensive to buy books for everyone in the district so they chose to give dictionaries to all of the third graders instead, Olmsted said.

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