The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Maggie Hartman writes this sentence with such elegance that her penmanship has been described as something “out of a textbook on handwriting.”
The fourth-grader earned top grade-level honors in Zaner-Bloser’s 2019 National Handwriting Contest. The 10-year-old, who was honored May 20 at a ceremony at Immaculate Conception School in Dardenne Prairie, was among nine national winners and nine semi-finalists chosen among 250,000 entries from across the country.
It’s hard to pinpoint where her artful script comes from, but Maggie said people have told her she gets it from her mother, Alana. She described her writing as “straight but curved,” which slants to the right because she’s right-handed.
“I just write whenever I can,” Maggie said. “My mom had really, really nice handwriting when she was my age, and she still does.”
Immaculate Conception School has entered Zaner-Bloser’s contest for more than a decade. A previous student, Hannah Faust, won a state-level award years ago, but this is the first time the school has had a national champion. “We want to instill good handwriting habits,” said second-grade teacher Mary Grannemann, who coordinates the school’s entries. “We want to let everybody else see what good handwriting looks like. Cursive writing is very artistic.”
Handwriting demonstrates craftsmanship, said principal Dan Mullenschlader. “We expect our students to know how to live that,” he said. “Handwriting is a very simple way of doing that.”
Entries were judged on shape, size, spacing and slant of letters in the sentence, which includes the entire alphabet and has been used to teach handwriting since the Victorian era.
Fourth-grade teacher Annette Maher wouldn’t take credit for developing her student’s handwriting skills, but nevertheless described her “a natural. She came to fourth grade with beautiful handwriting. And probably the very first day, I said, ‘I’ve got a winner here in this classroom.’”
Alana Hartman said her daughter is naturally artistically inclined and does a bit of creative writing at home, including writing a book on her own in the past. “I think the form of it is what interests her,” Hartman said. “She’s always been into that kind of thing. She produces a lot of paperwork.”
As a national winner, Maggie received a large trophy, and handwritten framed certificate and $500 cash prize. Her school also receives $500 in educational materials.
Her advice to other students on becoming a handwriting champion?
“Keep calm and keep writing,” Maggie said.