Tuesday December 4, 2012

RICHMOND

Third-graders at Richmond Consolidated School did some sleuthing on Monday morning, from "asteroid" to "veterinarian."

Richmond is among 10 schools whose third-grade students are receiving brand new 800-plus-page illustrated Macmillan children’s dictionaries from the Rotary Club of Pittsfield. The dictionary distribution is a special project of the Rotary’s Literacy Committee, now in its ninth year.

In addition to Richmond, all Pittsfield third-graders -- including those attending Allen dale, Capeless, Conte, Crosby, Egremont, Morningside, St. Mark, Stearns and Williams elementary schools -- will receive reference books this week.

"We’ve talked about it in our club, whether dictionaries are still worth giving out," said Dr. John Reynolds, a Rotarian whose children were previous book recipients while attending Richmond.

On Monday, he distributed the dictionaries in Beth Smith’s third-grade class in Richmond with fellow Rotarian Ted Potter. The two men and teacher then had students look up words, read definitions and talk about the different reference sections of the dictionary.

"We agreed that in third grade, there is still something about being given something tangible. It’s an age where children are still being taught the value of holding and learning from a book," Reynolds said.

Literacy is a worldwide initiative of Rotary International, a consortium of community-based volunteer service clubs.

According to the Pittsfield Rotary Literacy Committee Chairman Ronald Latham, once this month’s dictionary distribution is complete, the club will have distributed a total of 4,507 dictionaries in Pittsfield and Richmond, an investment of $39,600, plus two "talking dictionaries" for the visually impaired, at $500 each, since the local project began.

Prior to distribution, volunteers from RSVP paste a bookplate in each book and insert a cover letter to parents explaining why their children are receiving these gifts.

"My brother still has his. This is pretty awesome," said Hannah Masiero, while thumbing through her own copy.

According to Greg Knight, president of the Rotary Club of Pittsfield, "You can’t be successful in the 21st century without the ability to read and write. As local Rotarians, we wanted to support the goals of Rotary International, while doing something truly meaningful to help improve the literacy of children."