LEHMAN TWP. — Monday was not a typical day for three Lehman-Jackson Elementary School students.
Ezekiel Deiter, 8, Finley Norconk, 9, and her brother Teagan, 12, were accompanied to Principal Donald James’ office by their teachers.
The threesome did not have worried faces as they entered the office but big smiles. They were just notified they were among the winners of the state level Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Contest and will advance to the semi-final national round.
“I think this is really cool,” fourth-grader Finley said. “I didn’t think I would win.”
Contest entries had to be submitted by Jan. 23, James said. The school was notified on April 6, of its student winners.
The students held a copy of their entries that showcased carefully shaped letters, which spelled out the sentence, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,” which uses all 26 letters of the alphabet.
The children also had a question to answer.
Ezekiel, who printed his entry, said his question was, ‘What did he like best about writing?’
His answer: “I like how to write so neatly.”
Finley and Teagan, who wrote their contest form in cursive, had to explain why writing is important to them.
“It helps understand everyday words,” Teagan said.
“It allows you to express ideas and feelings in a story or poem,” Finley said.
James awarded the students gold-like medals and a letter from Zaner-Bloser for their penmanship. Their teachers Shelene James, sixth grade; Jackie Pavlick, fourth grade; and Tracy Thompson, second grade, received a diamond-shaped award and a $200 Zaner-Bloser gift certificate for educational materials to share.
The students’ entries are now in the running for the semi-final national competition where their handwriting samples will be judged against children throughout the country, James said.
“We should be notified by May 1 if our students placed in the national semi-finals,” he said.
The school has had students named as state winners from 2013-2016. Lehman-Jackson Elementary student Gracie James was named the National Grade Level Semi-Finalist in the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting contest in 2015.
Principal James noted cursive writing has ups and downs in mainstream curriculum, but Lehman-Jackson keeps it in its educational program and uses the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Contest to fuel the children’s interest.
“A lot of students want to print,” said Pavlick. “The contest motivates them to write in cursive.”
Thompson said once she starts teaching cursive writing in January, she then requires students to use only that form of writing.