By Anna Guido
NORWOOD - The fading art of penmanship has been rediscovered at Immaculate Conception Academy.
Three students in the K-12 Catholic school, which has an enrollment of 107, are state champions in the nation's largest handwriting contest.
"They write well or they write it over again," said Sister Mary Peter, an Immaculate Conception teacher who knows from 37 years of experience that students who write legibly perform better.
Three students from Immaculate Conception Academy in Norwood have won the State Grade Level of the National Handwriting Contest. They are, from left, Emily Cole, 13, seventh grade, Michelle Boylson, 7, second grade, and John Boylson, 14, eighth grade. Michelle and John are cousins.
(Gary Landers photo)
Richard Northup, vice president of marketing for Zaner-Bloser Educational Publishers in Columbus, the contest sponsor, said handwriting is a key element of literacy, and studies show that students who do it well score better on proficiency tests.
"We want kids to know that good things happen when you have good handwriting," Northup said.
At Immaculate Conception, all schoolwork must be done in cursive writing from second grade on with few exceptions.
Rosemarie Young, president-elect of the National Association of Elementary School Principals in Alexandria, Va., said schools nationwide put less emphasis on handwriting than in the past.
"Teachers work with students on handwriting in the context of another assignment," said Young.
More use of technology and a stronger emphasis on academic courses are some of the reasons handwriting instruction faded, Young said.
"I think children need to know how to write legibly and need to know composition and penmanship," she said. "But as long as we're able to understand what it is the student is trying to say, we're not going to give it back to them to write over - what we're after is the information."
Zaner-Bloser, whose parent company is Highlights for Children, has sponsored the handwriting contest since 1990. State and national winners are given awards, savings bonds, pens, gift certificates and other prizes.
Immaculate Conception Academy's winners in the Zaner-Bloser Educational Publishers contest are: Emily Cole, 13, of Liberty Township, John Boylson, 14, of Green Township and Michelle Boylson, 7, of West Chester Township. More than 130,000 students from 47 states participated in the contest, sponsored by the Columbus-based publisher.
Emily and John were among 350 Ohio contestants to compete in their grade levels. Michelle was among 1,200 to compete in her grade level. It isn't the first year for an Immaculate Conception student to win the state contest. Last year, Kathleen Reist was the 7th grade state champ. Master penman Clinton Hackney, author of a series of books on handwriting, selected the national winners and grand national champion.
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