Story by Sonja Bailes, Special to the Press-Tribune
Can you answer this question: Who was the longest-sitting U.S. President? Or what is the population of Louisiana? What about the state bird of Rhode Island?
Thousands of students across Bossier Parish can give an answer fairly fast, thanks to the Bossier Rotary Club.
For eight years now, Bossier Rotary has been distributing student dictionaries to every third grader in the parish school system to help prepare them for the LEAP assessment test, which they take in fourth grade.
This year, the Benton Rotary Club joined in to help dole out the dictionaries to third grade classes at schools in Benton and Plain Dealing. They try to have the resources in students’ hands each year before Christmas break, for use at the beginning of second semester.
“It is one of our most rewarding projects we do for the community,” said Bill Kostelka, long-time member of the Bossier Rotary Club. Rotary International is heavily involved in public service activities within communities, this being a prime example.
The information inside the dictionaries goes far beyond the definition and spelling of words, Kostelka explained. Also included is the U.S. Constitution, as well as information about the solar system and planets, Braille, sign language, a biography of each president, a map of America and each state’s capitol, population, bird and flower.
Meadowview Elementary third grade teachers Lynn Gabbard, Courtney Gaspard, Leslie Hadwin and Julie Landry say the Rotary Club’s gracious donation of student dictionaries is truly appreciated.
“They are utilized in our classrooms frequently as they contain a wealth of information across the curriculum, thus making Common Core facts easier for students to access.” The teachers went on to say, “Along with standard dictionary terms, you will also find facts surrounding the solar system, U.S. history/facts, Geography, Measurement and Multiplication Facts. The size of the student dictionaries is user-friendly to third grade students, as they use them to gather information on a daily basis. We just can’t thank the Rotary Club enough for this generous donation!”
Kostelka estimates approximately 13,000 student dictionaries have been distributed across Bossier Parish to date. It is certainly a big investment monetarily on behalf of Bossier Rotary Club; one that pays off even bigger dividends for students.