Handwriting Contest

Mya Gauldin, 7, a first-grader at Ottobine Elementary School, stands with her teacher, Dawn Flora, on Wednesday after receiving an award for winning the 2017 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest for Virginia.

OTTOBINE — Penmanship may have fallen to the wayside in many places with the coming of the digital age, but for 7-year-old Mya Gauldin, it’s an award-winning skill.

Mya, a first-grader at Ottobine Elementary School, was honored at a school assembly Wednesday as the statewide first-grade handwriting champion and finishing as a national semifinalist in the 2017 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

Columbus, Ohio-based Zaner-Bloser is a textbook publishing company with an office in Richmond. The annual contest brought in more than 200,000 entries in January, according to Dale Figg, a company sales representative who presented a trophy at the assembly.

The contest is open for public and private school students in kindergarten through eighth grade. In kindergarten through second grade, students submit print handwriting samples, while all others submit cursive samples.

Zaner-Bloser representatives examine the submissions and select winners.

Mya’s parents, Jennifer and Robbie Gauldin, were surprised when they heard their daughter won. Jennifer Gauldin said she emphasizes handwriting at home.

“I try to teach her cursive,” she said.

Jennifer Gauldin said her daughter practices reading and writing by playing school at home.

Mya said she practices “so I can be good when I go to class.”

Principal Todd Johnson said Anita Richardson, the school’s reading specialist, submitted Ottobine’s contest entries. Johnson said writing is part of the school’s focus in the classroom.

“Handwriting is something that Ottobine continues to emphasize,” he said. “There’s a long tradition at this school of maintaining a lot of pride in student handwriting at a time when that’s not always happening everywhere.”

Mya’s teacher, Dawn Flora, who also was recognized at the assembly, wasn’t surprised Mya won.

“She much earned and deserved that,” she said. “This is a child that works hard at everything she does.”

Contact Nolan Stout at 574-6278 or nstout@dnronline.com

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