Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Monday, June 25, 2018

Write011Lydia Flynn, third-grade teacher; Debbie Jeong, eighth-grade writing contest state winner; Sister Joan Marie Crapps, of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church, second-grade teacher. Mrs. Flynn taught Miss Jeong to write cursive when she was in the third grade. Sister Joan Marie coordinated the school's participation in the writing contest. (Photo by Lenora Sumsky) MANCHESTER – Assumption School eighth grader Debbie Jeong has been named State Grade Level Winner in the 22nd Annual Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

She is eligible to compete for a National Grade Level Winner title to be awarded later this month.

Over 285,000 students entered this year’s contest, which is sponsored by Zaner-Bloser, a member of the Highlights family of companies, which publishes research- based handwriting, reading, spelling and vocabulary programs.

Sister Joan Marie Crapps, of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church, who teaches at Assumption, presented Miss Jeong with an engraved State Winner Medallion during a short ceremony. Miss Jeong told her more than 150 fellow students that handwriting is important and that it helps students to grow academically.

Students at Assumption School learn manuscript and cursive by the third grade and receive, on average, 15 minutes of daily handwriting instruction, the amount recommended by experts. 

Sister Joan Marie, who coordinated the school’s participation in the contest, said that there is significant research showing that handwriting instruction enhances both cognitive and motor skills development and activates regions of the brain associated with thinking, short term memory and language. 

"Legible handwriting is an essential skill even in the digital age," said Sister Joan Marie. "It is a basic skill that influences students’ reading, writing, language use, and critical thinking. Many standardized tests, such as the SAT, still require handwriting and studies show that answers written neatly and legibly are scored more favorably."

The proliferation of personal computers, smart phones and tablets has led many educators and policymakers to question the usefulness of spending class time to teach handwriting to students who will live and work in a digital age, according to a report published recently by the National Association of State Boards of Education. But the report went on to say that emerging research points to the educational value of handwriting in ways that go well beyond being able to read cursive and take notes without the benefit of a handheld device.

Despite the debate, students and faculty are committed to participating in the contest again next year.

In addition to the medal awarded to Miss Jeong, language arts teacher Pamela Langelie received an engraved glass diamond award and the school received a gift certificate for Zaner-Bloser instructional products