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Maryland and Virginia Special Needs Students Earn Top Honors in 2016 National Handwriting Contest

COLUMBUS, Ohio (April 11, 2016)—Zaner-Bloser is proud to announce the Nicholas Maxim Special Award winners, honoring two special needs students—one manuscript (print) winner and one cursive winner—for their dedication and mastery of handwriting, as part of the 2016 National Handwriting Contest

Anaya Ellick, a first-grade student at Greenbrier Christian Academy (GCA) in Chesapeake, Virginia, earned the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Manuscript Penmanship. According to Tracy Cox, principal of GCA, Anaya was born without hands and does not use prosthetics. In order to write, she is able to hold a pencil between her two arms and stand at her desk to get the proper angle needed for writing. "Anaya is a remarkable young lady. She does not let anything get in the way of doing what she has set out to do," said Cox. "She is a hard worker and has some of the best handwriting in her class. Her determination is an inspiration to all of us at GCA."

Ricardo Guerrero, an eighth-grade student at St. Joseph’s Regional Catholic School in Beltsville, Maryland, won the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellence in Cursive Penmanship. On his entry form Guerrero describes how handwriting makes him a better reader and writer. "When I practice handwriting, it makes me able to read perfectly and I become even better when I practice writing very often."

"We're thrilled about this opportunity to honor two very special students who put their hard work and dedication into handwriting," said Donna Schultz, president of Zaner-Bloser. "It is so inspiring to see these students, along with the rest of the student entrants, demonstrate a passion for handwriting by overcoming personal challenges and achieving their academic goals."

To be eligible for the Nicholas Maxim Award, a student must have a cognitive delay or an intellectual, physical, or developmental disability. A team of occupational therapists judged all the entries.

Zaner-Bloser announced the winners at the 2016 American Occupational Therapy Association National Conference & Expo in Chicago, Illinois. The winning schools will receive a framed certificate and a Zaner-Bloser gift certificate to spend on print and digital resources for their teachers and students. Zaner-Bloser plans to award each student $1,000 and a trophy at upcoming school assemblies.

Zaner-Bloser created and named this award in January of 2011 after receiving an entry from Nicholas Maxim, a fifth-grader from Readfield, Maine, who submitted an outstanding cursive entry despite the fact he had been born without his lower arms and hands. His achievement received international media attention and inspired students across the globe.

To learn more about the contest and its 25-year history, visit our 2016 National Handwriting Contest page.

About the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest

Now in its 25th year, the National Handwriting Contest is an annual event sponsored by Zaner-Bloser to promote legible handwriting. The contest is free to enter and open to all students in grades K–8. The contest includes a Special Needs category, the Nicholas Maxim Award. Students can win many great prizes, including cash and trophies. Zaner-Bloser estimates that more than 4 million students have participated in the contest over its 25-year history.

About Zaner-Bloser

Zaner-Bloser is an educational-solutions company specializing in delivering explicit instruction and a solid academic foundation for PreK–8 students in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and other language arts. Our core digital and print resources include Superkids, Spelling Connections, Strategies for Writers, and Zaner-Bloser Handwriting. As a member of the Highlights Family of Companies, we strive to always do what's right for children and make a significant contribution to their education. Visit for more information.

Media Contact:

Celina Fabrizio
Cell: 614.745.9462