Rotarians Pass Out Dictionaries

St. Marys Rotary President Zach Ferrall (right) hands a dictionary to third grader Mallori Wilker on Thursday at St. Marys West Intermediate School as part of The Dictionary Project.
Managing Editor

In his 18th year of disturbing dictionaries to third graders, Rotary Past President Jim Harris still gets a thrill out of helping young students learn.

“For me and my family, personally, education has been huge,” he said. “My parents always pushed education and we knew it helped.

“I was so convinced about the program that even before I asked Rotary, my mind was already made up. We were going to do this.”

Harris, along with current President Zach Ferrall and Rotarians Wes Protsman and Robbie Burke also passed out dictionaries to third graders on Thursday at St. Marys West Intermediate School as part of The Dictionary Project.

“The kids always seem eager to learn and that is the big thing for me because I am always trying to learn new stuff,” Harris said. “And I see these third-graders and their eager and I just love they’re enthusiasm. It is one of the highlights of my day.”

Immediately following his term as president of the St. Marys Rotary Club, Harris was approached by Mary French from The Dictionary Project, who came to him with a vision. 

French, the director of The Dictionary Project, had a vision that all third-graders should receive a dictionary. After hearing her vision, Harris and members of the St. Marys Rotary Club conducted some research and learned when students are in third grade, they start looking up words in dictionaries, which teaches them how to learn. 

The dictionaries are supplied from

The dictionaries, which are 540 pages long, contain information about all 50 states, weights and measurements, words for large numbers, Roman numerals, U.S. presidents, the constitution, the world, planets, the periodic table of elements, clouds, the water cycle, specifications of the Earth, sign language, braille, multiplication tables, the Declaration of Independence, countries and continents, common standard international unit symbols, metric system, the longest word in the English language and a standard dictionary defining hundreds of words. 

The dictionaries may be handed out to students in third grade, but Harris said he has seen students use the dictionaries when they’re in high school. 

Harris has said that through, Rotary has also purchased dictionaries for high school students as well as English-Spanish dictionaries to supply them to schools in South America.

The project pertains to all third graders in the St. Marys City School District, including Holy Rosary and Grand Lake Christian School before that closed a couple of years ago.

“It didn’t matter to us, if you were a third grader you needed a dictionary,” Harris concluded.