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Brooklyn fifth grader wins national handwriting contest

Caitlyn Ngo from St. Edmund catholic school wins top US handwriting prize

May 11, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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A fifth-grade student from St. Edmund Elementary School, a Catholic school at East 19th Street and Avenue T in Homecrest, has been selected as the fifth grade Grand National Champion in the 30th annual Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

This means that the student, Caitlyn Ngo, has the best cursive handwriting from all the fifth-grade students who entered throughout the country.

All in all, nine students – one in each grade from kindergarten through eighth – earned the distinction of Grand National Champion in their respective grade levels.

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Brooklynite Caitlyn and the other Grand National Champions received engraved trophies and $500 checks. Their schools received $1,000 product vouchers and certificates of achievement. The winners’ teachers also received handcrafted, personalized certificates.

The Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, now in its 30th year, has attracted more than 2.3 million students who have put pencil (not pen) to paper throughout the years. This year’s contest was done online, and students were able to submit samples of their handwriting digitally.

A sample of Brooklyn fifth-grader Caitlyn Ngo’s prize-winning handwriting. Photo courtesy of Paul Werth Associates

The contest comes as the teaching of cursive handwriting has declined in schools since the beginning of the computer age.

According to the Edutopia website, the Common Core State Standards, adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia, call for handwriting instruction only in kindergarten and first grade, and keyboarding skills after that. And the My Cursive website in 2019 reported that only 21 states mandate handwriting instruction: New York wasn’t one of them.

However, says Lisa Carmona, president of Zaner-Bloser, “Research has shown time and time again that handwriting has a positive effect on children’s learning, providing many benefits that support cognitive development and improve academic outcomes.

“Our contest recognizes handwriting as an important component of literacy education and celebrates students for their hard work and commitment to excellence,” she said in a statement.

In the contest, students in kindergarten through second grade compete in the manuscript (print) category, while students in third through eighth grades compete in the cursive category.

All students write the required sentence, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” because it contains every letter of the alphabet. Judges select winners based on Zaner-Bloser’s four keys to legibility: the shape, size, spacing and slant of the letters.

The contest also includes a category for students with special needs. The Nicholas Maxim Award, named in honor of a past participant whose passion for writing inspired the award, is open to students with a cognitive, intellectual, physical, or developmental disability who excel in manuscript and cursive.

Nationwide, participating public and private schools held their own handwriting competitions and selected a winner in each grade. School grade-level winners then advanced to state competitions, where they competed against other winners in their respective grades. State-level winners moved on to the national competition.

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