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Chicago Park School nets 4 state handwriting awards

Four students at Chicago Park School have been selected as state grade-level winners of the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

The winning students are second-grader Maddy Funk, fifth-grader London Linster, seventh-grader Kate Fore, and eighth-grader Koen Cayabyab.

The Zaner-Bloser contest, which receives around 250,000 entries each year from K-8 students throughout the United States, judges written submissions by what the organization calls the “Keys to Legibility:” shape, size, spacing, and slant.

Each competing student is asked to write on their entry form, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” a sentence containing every letter of the alphabet.

Chicago Park School chooses students to represent their grade levels in the Zaner-Bloser competition each year by first conducting a competition among its own students.

According to Chicago Park’s second-grade teacher Ashlee Price, handwriting is heavily emphasized in the school’s programs through explicit instruction beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through fifth grade.

“Our educators understand that handwriting instruction is a vital skill that makes children better readers, writers, and spellers,” said Price. “Additionally, handwriting is proved to aid in remembering and synthesizing information.”

Each winning student received the good news last week through a video call from their teacher and principal.

“We were all so elated to share some fantastic news with our students, especially during a time of change, disappointment, and fear for all of our students,” said Price.

One of Price’s second-grade students, Maddy Funk, was the youngest Chicago Park winner this year.

Maddy was “very shocked” to learn she had been chosen as a winner, and is looking forward to competing again next year.

Fifth-grader London Linster has been persistent in working on her handwriting.

“I’ve tried every year,” said London. “I usually get second place for my grade in the school, but this year I’m first in the state, and I’m really proud of myself.”


The fact that these students’ work had been recognized in the Zaner-Bloser contest was welcomed warmly by both the students themselves and their families.

“I think with all of the disconnect, and all of the changes and challenges that all the kids have been going through, to be able to have that video call and just get to see her principal and her teacher’s expression — for them to get to share in her excitement was just such a lovely, great thing to share,” said London’s mother, Stephany Nagy.

According to seventh-grader Kate Fore, the practice she did much earlier in elementary school has been essential in developing her current handwriting skills.

Kate mentioned the exercises assigned in first, second, and third grade as having helped her build a good foundation.

“I’m good at cursive, so I was able to get a good entry,” she said.

Eighth-grader Koen Cayabyab expressed that he values the handwriting skills he has learned at Chicago Park, saying it is something that can help later in life.

In reference to finding out he had won in the competition, Koen said, “I was very surprised, because I didn’t think that they would continue it with all that’s going on right now.”

Kate and Koen have been recognized for their excellent handwriting in the past, both having been chosen as state winners in 2016.

Katie Kohler, the principal and superintendent of Chicago Park School, is supportive of the students’ handwriting as part of their education.

“It is really wonderful that Chicago Park invests in teaching quality handwriting,” said Kohler. “I love that the school competes in the competition every year.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union.

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