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Maine Fifth Grader Inspires the Creation of a New Special Penmanship Award for the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest

While more than 200,000 students are awaiting the results of Zaner-Bloser's 20th Anniversary National Handwriting Contest, a fifth grader in Readfield, Maine, received a special award for his participation in this year's competition. During a school assembly on April 4th, Readfield Elementary School principal, Cheryl Hasenfus, presented a trophy to Nicholas Maxim on behalf of Zaner-Bloser for his excellent penmanship-an even more significant accomplishment because he was born without hands and lower arms.

Zaner-Bloser received an entry from Nicholas Maxim's principal in January 2011 after the contest began. His penmanship looked comparable to most students his age despite his disability.

"We submitted his entry because we felt his penmanship was amazing considering he completes most of his work without using his prostheses," says Hasenfus. "We are honored that Zaner-Bloser decided to start a new category in Nicholas's honor." Read more about Nicholas.

Zaner-Bloser created the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship for this year's handwriting contest and years to follow. "When our team saw Nicholas's handwriting, we were just amazed," said Zaner-Bloser President Bob Page. "Since we started this contest 20 years ago, we've been pleased to get a great response that increases every year, and Nicholas inspired us to encourage all students to participate."

The Special Needs Handwriting Contest will include the following guidelines:

  • Each school may enter one manuscript and one cursive special needs entry.
  • To be eligible to participate in this category, a student must have a cognitive delay, or an intellectual, physical, or developmental disability.
  • Entries may be written in either manuscript or cursive.
  • Each entry must have a special needs recommendation letter on official school letterhead explaining why the student is eligible for the award.
  • Each student chosen to represent their school will receive an achievement certificate and will be entered to win the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship.

National and Grand National winners in the 20th Anniversary Handwriting Contest will be announced at the International Reading Association Annual Convention on May 10 in Orlando. The annual Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest encourages legible handwriting by testing the abilities of students who use the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting program in Grades 1 through 8 in both public and private schools.

The company estimates that more than 2.5 million students have participated in the contest during its 20-year history. View the 2010-2011 National Handwriting Contest State Winners.

Be sure to visit the Zaner-Bloser website at after the May 10 announcement to find out who will be the National and Grand National winners!

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