Julie Agard
assistant professor, Department of Teacher Education, 308.865.8556

In this age of cutting edge communications technologies, a traditional form of communication — writing in cursive–is still prized across the state, as is in evidence by the number and age range of competitors taking part in the 21st annual Nebraska State Handwriting Contest this spring.

“There were about 200 entries total,” said Julie Agard, contest director and a UNK assistant professor of teacher education. ” We have never actually kept track of the numbers in each category, but the age group of 13-16 has always been the smallest. This year was a surprise in that we had a noticeable increase in that category.

“The broad appeal of the contest continues with entries coming from all regions of the state and in all age categories,” she said. “The entries were evaluated for ease of reading, fluent rhythmic movement with technically correct performance of specifications such as the slope, space, size and shape of the letters. The general layout of the entry was taken into account, along with neatness of presentation.” For judging, entries from the competitors are divided into four categories by age: 12 and under, ages 13 – 16, ages 17 – 49, and ages 50 and over. The first place winners, by category, include: Emily Beave of Hastings, ages 12 and under; Sydney Engberg of Kearney, ages 13 – 16; Rita Vogel of York, ages 17 – 49; and Denise Smith of Lexington, ages 50 and over. This is the second consecutive year that Vogel has taken first in the ages 17-49 category. For Smith, this is the second year that she has placed in the competition. A first place winner this year, Smith garnered an honorable mention last year.

“Elementary teachers were, once again, especially supportive of the curriculum-based activity and provided the largest number of entries for an age group,” Agard said. “This year produced the most entries ever received before in the 13-16 ages category, and a one-two finish for students at Kearney High School.

“Competition was exceptionally fierce in the upper end of the contest,” she said. “The age 50 and over category always produces excellent examples of legible handwriting. The judges especially appreciated the opportunity to examine entries from participants who have reached their 90s and are still displaying a beautiful form of cursive writing.

A complete list of winners, by category, includes: age 12 and Under – Emily Beave of Hastings, first place, and Alayna Whipple of Arapahoe, second place; ages 13-16 – Sydney Engberg of Kearney, first place, and Stephanie Munch of Kearney, second place; ages 17-49 – Rita Vogel of York, first place, and Troy Saulsbury of Kearney, second place; and ages 50 and over – Denise Smith ofLexington, first place, Jocelyn Van Pelt of Hemingford, second place, and Norine Nieman ofOmaha, honorable mention. Nieman also placed in the competition last year.

Prizes, provided by The Antelope Bookstore of Kearney, were awarded for first and second place winners. The contest is endorsed by the Nebraska State Education Association and the Nebraska State Department of Education.