AYER – Students at Page Hilltop Elementary School filed into their school cafeteria on Tuesday morning to receive a unique but nonetheless important gift: a dictionary.
A Student’s Dictionary to be specific, a modified gazetteer containing everything from biographies of the U.S. presidents to a map of the seven continents.
Copies of that special dictionary were given out to the third grade class of Page Hilltop by members of the Ayer Rotary Club participating in The Dictionary Project.
The nonprofit organization was inspired by Annie Plummer, a resident of Savannah, Ga., who gave 50 dictionaries to children at a neighboring school in 1992.
Since the project’s official formation in 1995, over 31 million kids across the country have received dictionaries meant to further their education at school and at home. The project has been taken on throughout the country by groups including Kiwanis Clubs, Lions Clubs, the Republican Federation of Women and others.
This is the fifth year that the Ayer Rotary Club has participated in the project, giving dictionaries not only to Page Hilltop’s third graders, but also to students in Harvard and Shirley.
However this is the first year the club gave an additional gift to the students in the form of maps of the world. The maps came courtesy of Clear Path for Veterans New England, which donated leftover maps from its annual backpack packing program for veterans’ children at Gillette Stadium back in August.
Donna Bulger is both a member of the Rotary Club and Clear Path, complimenting the “great partnership” between the two organizations.
“We saw the opportunity to put the maps together with the dictionaries,” Bulger said. “It’s really surprising to see kids in this age group embrace these things so much.”
Lehel Reeves, representing the Littleton Rotary Club, said that the project is a “fantastic” opportunity for Ayer and its young learners.
“These dictionaries are often the first book that some of these children have ever had and owned, and in many cases are the only book in a child’s home,” Reeves said in an email last week. “A paper bound dictionary is still important.”
“We want to encourage kids and their education,” Jason Kauppi, the club’s chair of public relations, said. “When kids usually get their dictionaries, they immediately open them up.”