2010 Nebraska Handwriting Contest is Now Accepting Entries

Julie Agard
assistant professor, Department of Teacher Education, 308.865.8556

UNK– At a time when communication for many has become about new technology that relies on text messages and Twitter, a group on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus is sponsoring a competition that relies on an age-old technology– the pen.

Now in its 20th year, the Nebraska Handwriting Contest is now accepting entries.

According to Julie Agard, an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education, the contest is open to all Nebraska residents “…to promote legible handwriting as an effective means of communication.” Agard has directed the competition since it began in 1991.

“The Nebraska Handwriting Contest was created by Tom Hutson of Red Cloud in memory of his mother Eva,” Agard said. This year,
one of the official texts is taken from “O Pioneers,” a novel by Red Cloud native Willa Cather.

Contestants will compete in four categories: ages 12 and under, ages 13-16, ages 17 – 49, and ages 50 and over. Prizes will be awarded in each of the categories. The competition, which is conducted by the UNK Department of Teacher Education, is an activity endorsed and supported by the Nebraska Department of Education and the Nebraska State Education Association. Entry deadline is Wednesday, March 31. Award winners will be announced to the media and posted on the Web site by April 30 at http://coe.unk.edu/contest.

“Official texts and contest rules for the competition are that the text provided should be written in any of the various styles of cursive handwriting rather than printed,” Agard said, adding that each performance of writing will be judged as a whole according to ease of reading.

“The writing should feature not only a fluent rhythmic movement but also a technically correct performance of specifications such as the slope, space, size and shape of the letters,” she said. “The goal of the work is disciplined freedom of movement.”

Contestants can choose the paper and the writing instrument to use as long as the paper is 8 1/2″ X 11”. The general layout of the entry (choice of margins and line spacing) will be taken into account along with overall neatness. Only one entry may be submitted by each participant, and each participant must write his/her name, address, telephone number and/or e-mail address on the back of the entry, indicating age as of Feb. 1, 2010.

“Students should also write the name and address of their school and the name of their teacher,” Agard said. “Teachers are asked to submit only the top three or four entries from their class after their own local judging.”

Entries may be submitted anytime after March 1, 2010, but must be received no later than Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at: NEBRASKA HANDWRITING CONTEST, Attention: Julie Agard, University of Nebraska at Kearney, College of Education, Kearney, NE  68849.

All entries become the property of the Nebraska Handwriting Contest and will be retained with the right to use them in full, or in part, in exhibitions and/or publications, she said.

The Antelope Bookstore on the UNK campus will provide Nebraska winners First Place and Second Place awards for excellence in penmanship in each age category. First Place will receive a $25 gift certificate, and Second Place will receive a $15 gift certificate. Prizes will be awarded solely on the recommendations of the judges.

The text for competitors ages 12 and under is taken from “The Wolf and the Shepherd,” an Aesop Fable:

The Wolf and the Shepherd

As a wolf lay hidden near a shepherd’s home, he smelled a rich, mouthwatering fragrance in the air. Creeping close to the window, he saw the shepherd and his family feasting together on roasted mutton. “If I catch and eat one of their sheep,” the wolf grumbled, “they set the dogs on me. But here they are, doing the very same things themselves!” We often condemn others for what we see no wrong in doing ourselves.

An Aesop Fable

For competitors ages 13 and over, the text is taken from “O Pioneers!” by Willa Cather, a Red Cloud native:

O Pioneers!

She led them to the northwest corner of the orchard, sheltered on one side by a thick mulberry hedge and bordered on the other by a wheatfield, just beginning to yellow. In this corner the ground dipped a little, and the bluegrass, which the weeds had driven out in the upper part of the orchard, grew thick and luxuriant. Wild roses were flaming in the tufts of bunchgrass along the fence. Under a white mulberry tree there was an old wagon-seat. Beside it lay a book and a workbasket.

By Willa Cather

The complete rules and the texts to be copied are posted at the following locations:  http://www.nsea.org andhttp://coe.unk.edu/contest.

Those who wish to receive the results of the contest can do so by including two (2) self-addressed stamped envelopes along with their entries to: Nebraska Handwriting Contest, Attention: Julie Agard, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Department of Teacher Education, Kearney, NE  68849.