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Rotarians deliver dictionaries to third graders


“Pandemic” is just one of the thousands of words third graders can look up in the new dictionaries they received from the Rio Grande Rotary Club, along with words like “generosity,” “service” and “compassion.”

The club has donated and delivered nearly 30,000 dictionaries – enough for every Las Cruces Public Schools third grader– since 2007. It didn’t happen last school year for the first time in 15 years because of the pandemic, but club members figured a way around COVID-19 this year.

On March 15, LCPS employees picked up two years of dictionaries (more than 3,400 total) and delivered them to all LCPS elementary schools “so that teachers could give the books to the students,” said club member Gene Gant, who is a former member of the LCPS Board of Education and the state Public Education Commission.

“This is not the usual manner of doing the delivery but the only way that it could happen,” he said, because of state public health orders.

The dictionaries the third graders receive “are not just words,” Gant said. Each dictionary also has a small encyclopedia section that includes information about American presidents, the Declaration of Independence, the states and more.

The project will happen again during the 2021-22 school year, Gant said.

“It is just hoped that we will be able to pull it off as we have in the past,” he said.

That will mean 60-65 Rio Grande Rotary Club members will visit every LCPS elementary school to personally deliver the dictionaries and tell students about the Rotary Club’s Four-Way Test and “its importance in the everyday lives of Rotarians and how it can be used in the lives of each student,” Gant  said.

Since that couldn’t happen this year, the club created a video that will be available on YouTube explaining about the dictionary donation.