9-year-old gets national award for perfect penmanship
Published: May 30, 2008 | 7075th good news item since 2003
Kevin Lomax, 9, loves a good ‘K.’ But don’t even get him started on ‘G,’ which he says is the hardest letter to write in cursive.
But Kevin conquered the ‘G,’ and the other 25 letters in the alphabet, to win a medal as the National Handwriting Champion of all public school students in his grade level, beating out 177,000 other public school students for the honor.
He received a medal and a certificate yesterday at Greensboro West Elementary School, where he is in third grade. He was also awarded a Nintendo DS game package and a $500 U.S. Savings Bond.
Kevin, who prefers cursive but still prints sometimes, beat out students from around the country, after being judged on legibility, stroke formation, spacing and the size of each stroke, as well as dotting his ‘i’s and crossing his ‘t’s.
In an era when many students are focused more on thumbing cell phone messages, Kevin is serious about his penmanship.
‘Look at his ‘I’,’ said Jane Sharp, pointing to a sample of Kevin’s handwriting. ‘It’s perfect.’
Sharp is Zaner-Blosser educational consultant for Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Zaner-Blosser has sponsored the national handwriting competition for 17 years and publishes handwriting instruction books.
Tinesha Smith, Kevin’s mother, said that even though her son is a ‘perfectionist,’ she was surprised when he won the national award.
‘I was really shocked because he just started learning handwriting this year,’ she said. ‘But he just got it. Whatever he has to do, he has to be perfect. If he can’t get it right, he kind of gets angry with himself.’
Kevin’s grandmother, Patricia
Smith Johnson, agreed, adding that he always strives to be the best, no matter what the challenge. And when his teacher wanted him to learn handwriting, he put his mind to the task.
‘If somebody wants him to do better, then that’s what he strives for,’ Smith Johnson said.
Brenda Teacher, Kevin’s teacher, said she spends a lot of time working with children on their strokes.
‘He really focused on the strokes,’ Teacher said. ‘I spend a lot of time on strokes, because once they’ve got the stroke, then they’ve got it. But Kevin is a perfect student, not just in handwriting, but all the way around.’
Greensboro Mayor Vanessa Hill said Kevin’s achievement reflects well on the Hale County town.
‘We’re so isolated and so far behind the times,’ said Hill, ‘that I think it’s good for the entire area to know that kids in this area can meet such standards.’
Hill does not remember learning handwriting, but does remember, like many adults, when it became more important to be able to type, ‘and, at some point, handwriting didn’t matter anymore.’
Many educators today lament the lost art of handwriting.
Sharp, who taught school for 28 years, has seen the decline of handwriting instruction.
‘I really do appreciate it when proper penmanship is instructed. And all good instruction starts at the top, from the superintendent to the principal and on. It is almost a lost art,’ Sharp said of handwriting. ‘You can’t escape handwriting, even though we’re in a computer age. Children have to express themselves through handwriting even in a computer age. And handwriting can’t just be caught. It has to be taught.’
Kevin, who will attend fourth grade at the same school next year, said he’s just a regular kid. His favorite color is blue, and he loves pizza. But when asked what he will do this summer with his time off from school, it’s clear that he is exceptional:
‘I want to practice writing and try [to win the national championship] again in fourth grade,’ he said with an ear-to-ear grin.