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Student gets an A-plus for cursive writing

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LaRue County's Brenna Southwood wins state handwriting award

By Linda Ireland

Computer keyboards have been called “pens of the future,” but educators say there still is a place for cursive handwriting in the classroom.

Heather Sutherland, a fourth-grade teacher at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Hodgenville, said research “has shown a direct correlation in fluent readers and cursive writing.”

“Most writing in elementary schools takes place by hand,” Sutherland said. “Most classrooms have only a few student computers to use for routine word processing.”

The students in her classroom spend time each week on the skill, even though it is not scored by Kentucky’s Common Core Standards. One of the students, Brenna Southwood, was recognized on a state level for her handwriting.

Brenna, the daughter of Tina Southwood, is Kentucky’s winner of the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. She is believed to be the first LaRue County student to win the award.

The contest is open to students across the country to promote cursive handwriting in schools. The sample consisted of a handwriting sample and a question for students to answer in cursive: “Why is cursive writing important?” 

Brenna received a medal, crystal trophy and $200 for her school. Her entry will compete at a national level this spring.

Sutherland, a National Board Certified Teacher, said she models for the students how to form letters and how to correctly connect letters to form words. Students practice independently and are scored on slant, letter-size, joining and formation.

Brenna’s handwriting sample score was the highest among the the school’s fourth grade.

Three classrooms at Abraham Lincoln Elementary participated for the first time this year, one primary (print writing) and two intermediate (cursive).

Brenna said she practices cursive writing “a lot during school” and she was “happy and excited to win the award.”

“(Principal) Mrs. (Karen) Downs asked me to help with the morning announcements,” she said. “At the end of the announcements, she gave me the award. I was very surprised.”

Linda Ireland is editor of The Herald-News in Hodgenville.