HISD third graders define success with massive donation of dictionaries

Beginning in 2016 with only five schools, the Rotary Club of Houston’s Dictionary Project has been dedicated to providing reading resources to HISD third graders. The number of recipient schools has grown every year, and this year, thanks to the generosity of individual donor Kandy Kaye Horn, every third grader in every HISD elementary school was given their own dictionary.

2023’s Dictionary Project was celebrated at Franklin Elementary where members of the Rotary Club enjoyed presentations from students, a performance by the Austin High School band and Edison Middle School dance team, and a thank-you breakfast for the Rotarians prepared by the Milby High School Culinary Program. 

“Literacy is the foundation of a society,” said Horn, whose passion for education motivated her generous donation. “Language is very important. The more they love to read, the more they will continue to read as adults.”

The donated dictionaries come with all of the bells and whistles, including atlases, a sign language alphabet, and a section of encyclopedic trivia. The students’ elementary education has readied them for the third grade, the first year that they will participate in standardized testing, and their new dictionaries will be an invaluable tool as they are an approved resource for use on the STAAR test.

“If a student has a dictionary and knows how to use it, they have a life skill and they have a resource that they can use to take charge of their own learning,” said Education Technology Specialist Michele Herod. “It speaks to the community commitment to HISD, saying ‘Hey, we believe in you and your education, so let’s see how we can support you to do bigger and better things.’”

The Franklin third graders were joined virtually by students from Wainwright Elementary and Bonham Elementary who participated in a lightning round of dictionary trivia. The students looked up definitions and information in their new dictionaries and volunteered to let their special guests know what they’d be doing with these useful books, including looking up difficult words and learning English as a second language.

The Dictionary Project is a national initiative sponsored and carried out by countless volunteer organizations including Rotary Clubs. To learn more about the project’s vision, visit their website