The Handwriting is on the wall!

Another St. Edward student draws national praise for penmanship

By Beth Donze, Kids’ Clarion Editor

Far from becoming a lost art, penmanship is alive and well at St. Edward the Confessor School in Metairie.

As the 2016-17 school year drew to a close last May, St. Edward kindergartner Gabrielle Gremillion, now in first grade, learned she had been chosen as one of 18 national semifinalists in her grade level in the 2017 Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Contest.

The 6-year-old was honored May 24 at a school assembly in St. Edward the Confessor Church for her excellence in print handwriting.

“I was surprised! I didn’t think I would win,” said Gabrielle, an all-around student whose favorite subject is math.

Gabrielle’s achievement marks the third time a St. Edward student has been recognized as a semifinalist in the national handwriting contest, open to students in grades K-8.

In 2012, St. Edward’s Brooke Morgan received the accolade as a first-grader; and in 2014, Benjamin Vu earned national honors in the kindergarten division.

Contestants in grades K-2 are asked to submit manuscript (print) entries, while those in grades 3-8 must offer a sample of their cursive (script) writing. All entrants are required to write the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” – because it contains every letter of the alphabet.

Judges select winners based on what Zaner-Bloser calls the four “keys to legibility”: the shape, size, spacing and slant of a writer’s lettering.

Participating schools hold their own handwriting competitions and select grade-level winners in the early stages of the competition. Grade-level winners advance to state competitions, where judges select a public and private grade-level winner for every state. From there, the judges select 18 public and private national grade-level semifinalists – the stage of the competition in which Gabrielle was recognized.

Finally, nine “grand national” grade-level champions are chosen from this group of semifinalists.

Zaner-Bloser sponsors the competition annually for schools which use its handwritin

g resources or “SuperKids” reading program. The company estimates that more than 4 million students have participated in the challenge in its 26 years of existence.

Debbie Hufft, a St. Edward technology teacher, said both manual writing and keyboarding are integrated into students’ daily routine.

“Here at St. Edward we merge the two,” Hufft said. “Handwriting is important to us because of what we’ve learned about the part of the brain that it feeds, so it stays a very important part of our curriculum,” Hufft said.

St. Edward students also are expected to send handwritten thank-you notes to those who support their school clubs with their time, talents and treasure, Hufft added.

“We’re not giving up our handwriting because of what it gives our students,” she said. “We’re not going to take away something that is so helpful to them.”

Seven St. Edward students received the distinction of being named statewide champions in the contest’s private school division. In addition to Louisiana kindergarten champion Gabrielle Gremillion, those state winners, now a grade older than the grade division in which they competed, were Isabella Carrion Sanchez, first grade; Ellie Shall, second; Anh Dao Le, third; Kaitlyn Stremlau, fourth; Christian Courtade, sixth; and Andrew Cavignac, seventh.

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