The Pine Bush Central School District, in collaboration with the Wallkill East Rotary Club, provided third graders with a wealth of vocabulary during its annual Dictionary Assemblies on October 23 and 24, an international tradition that promotes literacy among its young students.
The four Pine Bush schools that hosted assemblies included Pine Bush Elementary, EJ Russell Elementary, Pakanasink Elementary, and Circleville Elementary. After gathering all the third graders within each school, members of the Rotary explained what a dictionary is and how to use one effectively. Each third grader then received a copy of “Webster’s Dictionary for Students, Sixth Edition,” featuring over 37,000 words.
“Dictionaries help people learn how to read. They’re filled with words and the definitions of them,” said Dr. William Bassett, a member of the Rotary and former district superintendent, who spoke to Pine Bush Elementary’s students.
Pine Bush is just one of the numerous districts that participate in The Dictionary Project, a global movement started by Mary French in Charleston, South Carolina in 1995. After noticing that many young students did not have dictionaries, she personally bought and distributed them in an effort to expand their literacy. Currently, Pine Bush Central has supplied its students with dictionaries for the past 15 years.
“It’s an international event started by a woman in Charleston, South Carolina. She saw that many children didn’t have dictionaries, so she went out and bought some for them,” Bassett explained.
The school district’s partner, the Rotary Club, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to create positive change in communities through unity, problem-solving, and education.
“The Rotary Club’s mission is youth and literacy, so naturally, we put those two together,” Bassett mentioned.
Before the third graders returned to their classes, Basset gave them a homework assignment: to look up “service” in their dictionary and understand how the word relates to today’s assembly. He also reminded them to always keep their dictionaries, even after they leave school for summer vacation.