Julie Agard
assistant professor, Department of Teacher Education, 308.865.8556

It’s about slope, size, space and overall neatness of penmanship for the 21st annual Nebraska Handwriting Contest, which is now accepting entries.

Now in its 21st year, the contest, which began in 1991, is hosted annually by the University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Teacher Education. The contest was created by Tom Hutson of Red Cloud in memory of his mother Eva.

“The contest is open to all Nebraska residents to promote legible handwriting as an effective means of communication,” said Julie Agard, UNK teacher education assistant professor.

Prizes will be awarded in four categories: ages 12 and under, ages 13-16, ages 17 – 49, and ages 50 and over. 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 Thursday, March 31. Award winners will be announced to the media and posted on the website by the end of April athttp://coe.unk.edu/contest.

Official texts and contest rules for the competition are as follows: the text provided should be written in any of the various styles of cursive handwriting rather than printed. 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.

Participants 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, 2011.

According to Agard, students should also write the name and address of their school and the name of their teacher.

“Teachers are asked to submit only the top three or four entries from their class after their own local judging,” Agard said.

Entries must be received no later than Thursday, March 31, 2011 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.

The Antelope Bookstore on the UNK campus will provide winners a First and Second Place Award 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 Fox and the Mask,” an Aesop Fable:

The Fox and the Mask

A Fox had by some means got into the store-room of a theatre. Suddenly he observed a face glaring down on him and began to be very frightened; but looking more closely he found it was only a Mask such as actors use to put over their face. “Ah,” said the Fox, “you look very fine; it is a pity you have not got any brains.”

Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.

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!

Alexandra drew her shawl closer about her and stood leaning against the frame of the mill, looking at the stars which glittered so keenly through the frosty autumn air. She always loved to watch them, to think of their vastness and distance, and of their ordered march. It fortifired her to reflect upon the great operations of nature, and when she thought of the law that lay behind them, she felt a sense of personal security. That night she had a new consciousness of the country, felt almost a new relations to it. Even her talk with the boys had not taken way the feeling that had overwhelmed her when she drove back to the Divide that afternoon.

By Willa Cather

The complete rules and the texts (to be copied by contest participants) are posted at the following locations:  http://www.nsea.org and http://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.