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Former town manager delivers donations to GPS schools

Gold celebrating the best of GPS

George Pettit stands outside Gilbert Elementary with boxes of dictionaries for GPS students.

On a cool fall morning outside Gilbert Elementary, George Pettit is unloading boxes of dictionaries out of his vehicle. The former town manager is delivering donations on behalf of the Gilbert Rotary Club. For the 14th year, the organization is giving away free dictionaries to third grade students. More than 2,000 copies are going to students at Gilbert Public Schools.

“The enthusiasm and gratefulness of the students makes the project worthwhile,” Pettit said.

The dictionaries include spellings and definitions, but they also have sections on American history, world geography, astronomy, sign language, and much more. Pettit says “learning is a lifelong opportunity” and the dictionaries can travel with students throughout their academic careers.

“When we first started this thing, I don’t think we realized the magnitude of how long people would use it,” Pettit said.

The Gilbert Rotary Club was first chartered in 1984. Walter Delecki and Brad Barrett were among the early members. Both men have served as superintendents of Gilbert Public Schools. When Pettit first began working for the Town of Gilbert, he says many understood the success of the community was directly connected to the school district.

 “We had to plan for the future. We always knew that Gilbert Public Schools was an important part in why people were living here,” Pettit said.

The dictionary donations are appreciated by students, teachers, and administrators. Justin Sremba is the principal of Gilbert Elementary. Sremba was there as Pettit delivered this year’s donations. 

“Our students get so excited when they get their hands on the dictionaries. Our teachers are also grateful to be receiving such a valuable resource for the students to use. The dictionaries allow them to grow their vocabulary, and understand and remember words. This is something that students can utilize each year during the remainder of their elementary years,” Sremba said. 

The Gilbert Rotary Club has donated more than 41,000 dictionaries to students over the past decade. Pettit says this is the longest-running service project for the organization. 

Written by Kailey Latham, Photos by Jonason Pauley