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Rotary members donate dictionaries to all Port Arthur third graders

Bill Worsham spent almost 50 years in education, spending much of that time encouraging and inspiring generations of local student-athletes from youth through college.

The former athletic director at Lamar State College-Port Arthur benefited greatly from the partnerships he helped grow and those that were in place when he was a student.

“I was a member of a little league team that was sponsored by the Port Neches Rotary Club, so I received the benefits that came with it,” Worsham said. “All the community leaders in Port Neches were members of the Rotary Club. When I had the opportunity, the first thing I did was join the Rotary Club in 2002.”

Today, the former Rotary Club of Port Arthur president and active member still embraces that partnership between education and community.

He was one of two-dozen volunteers who gathered recently at the Museum of the Gulf Coast to mark and sort dictionaries for donation to third grade students. Motiva also sponsors the project.

Worsham said Port Arthur Independent School District students are the primary recipients, with third graders in every elementary school receiving a free dictionary. The club then branches out, according to Worsham, to donate books to private schools, Sabine Pass and charter schools.

A team of more than two dozen Rotary Club of Port Arthur members and volunteers helped prepare dictionaries for local students last week at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. (Stephen Hemelt/The News)

“These are much more than dictionaries,” Worsham stressed. “If you look at them, they are almanacs. It’s almost an encyclopedia. It has so much more information than just a dictionary. These third graders are the perfect age to look through and read.”

Rotary has operated the program in Port Arthur for 12 years, with benefits extending into Mid-County.

Dr. Mark Porterie, PAISD superintendent and Rotary member, said Rotary brings leaders together to provide service and advance goodwill.

“I want to model for our children the importance of giving back to our community,” he said. “Giving back strengthens our connection to our community, and my hope for our children is that they would strive to, one day, be in a position to give back.”

He feels partnerships from service organizations and school systems are critical to accomplishing that goal, adding the support given by the Rotary Club of Port Arthur and others to assist local students and staff members is always appreciated.

The PAISD is working in alignment with a five-year outline, within which is an emphasis on the need for partnerships with area businesses “to assist students from the cradle to college.”

“Partnerships with the entire community are crucial if we want our community to not only survive but to thrive,” Porterie said.

Rotary Club of Port Arthur distributed approximately 700 dictionaries last year and members anticipate the same number donated this academic year.