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Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest Now Has a Special Needs Category

While more than 220,000 students were 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 4, 2011, 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.

When Nicholas's contest entry was received in January, there was a note included from Hasenfus explaining Nicholas's unique circumstances. Kathleen Wright, Handwriting National Product Manager, was impressed with how Nicholas’s penmanship looked comparable to most students his age despite his disability. She and the management team were so inspired, in fact, that Zaner-Bloser created the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship for this year’s handwriting contest and years to follow. "When Kathleen and 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."

Nicholas, who said he likes writing and illustrating comic strips, didn’t know his paper had been entered in the contest, so a school assembly held in his honor came as a surprise. But he admitted to being pleased with the attention. “I liked it,” he told a local newspaper. “It was a big surprise.”

"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.

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 be entered to win the Nicholas Maxim Special Award for Excellent Penmanship.

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 deadline to enter the contest is January 23, 2012 (National Handwriting Day).


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