'A gift to fuel literacy': Rotary Club delivers books to local third graders

During the month of October, the Dickinson Rotary Club has long distributed dictionaries to children in area schools. On Tuesday, 480 third graders in Dickinson, Belfield and South Heart were recipients of the annual community drive.

Jefferson Elementary
Mrs. Chantel Heth and her Jefferson Elementary School third graders show off their new dictionaries from the Dickinson Rotary Club.
Contributed / Dickinson Rotary Club
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DICKINSON — Local volunteers from the Dickinson Rotary Club are marching along in their 15th year of an annual tradition to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary skills of local children. During a two week period of mid-October, rotarians are visiting third grade classes in Dickinson, South Heart and Belfield and gifting the alms of language.

During each visit the volunteers provided each student with a dictionary and delivered a brief presentation explaining why dictionaries are a useful resource. Rotarian Glenice Hansen said that approximately 480 third graders will receive a copy, and noted that she feels the endeavor is especially important this year, as many students lost progress during the virtual learning periods of the pandemic.

“I know that although many families do have computers, not every child has access to that at their home. The dictionaries can be taken home and used by the whole family,” Hansen said. “We feel that it is more than just a dictionary. It is a gift to fuel literacy and a love of learning in the student.”

State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced that updated school accountability reports, which show performance information about North Dakota’s schools, have been published for students, their families, school teachers and administrators, and taxpayers to review.

Reading and Language.png
These visualizations represent the ACT student performance for North Dakota public high school students with graphs representing the ACT Composite, along with sub-scores in Reading and Writing tests for Bismarck High School, Dickinson High School, Killdeer High School and South Heart High School.
Dickinson Press file

“North Dakotans provide billions of dollars for their local schools, and they deserve information about their investment,” Baesler said. “These accountability reports give our citizens and taxpayers an indication of how their schools are doing."


In the area of public education, North Dakota fared well compared to other states, earning the 4th highest ACT scores in the U.S., with Dickinson Public Schools, consisting of six elementary schools, one middle school and two high schools, demonstrating above-average proficiency rates and a graduate at a rate of 92.9%

In 2020 Nell Duke, an education professor at the University of Michigan, appeared on The Today Show to offer tips on how parents can expand their child’s vocabulary from an early age.

Duke said five new words per week is optimal. The child must hear something 4-12 times before it gains a relatively permanent space in their mental warehouse of words. With this in mind, sprinkle the word throughout daily conversation. Visual association activities can help build stronger pathways to long-term retention.

He said it takes time for them to conceptualize distinctions, so don’t worry if they call their bicycle helmet a hat. It’s also good practice to work with them on pronunciation.

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Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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