MONROEVILLE - You might have laughed after your grade school teacher stressed the importance of penmanship.
Well, Monroeville sixth-grader Morgan Rarick is laughing now. It is a giddy type of laugh; the kind a student might emit when she learns judges singled out her handwriting as the best among sixth-grade public school students in the nation.
Rarick earned the honor through the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Contest. Students in younger grades submit print entries, while older students turn in cursive entries.
Monroeville Elementary's staff and student body will honor Rarick on May 29 at the school.
Columbus-based Educational publishers Zaner-Bloser sponsors a national handwriting competition for students in grades one through eight who use the Zaner-Bloser handwriting program.
More than 177,000 students in grades one through eight competed in this year's contest.
The contest begins at the school level, then proceeds to county, state and finally nationals.
Rarick, 12, has captured either second or third place at the county level every year since second grade. Last year, she won first place, a feat she attributed to extra practice and being more conscientious.
Rarick said she feels good about having created the best sixth-grade contest entry in the nation.
"I was really excited because of the prizes that I get," she said. They are: A $500 U.S. Savings Bond, a Nintendo DS/Brain Age2 game package, an engraved pen, medal, engraved certificate, a technology prize and a T-shirt.
Monroeville Elementary will receive a Zaner-Bloser $150 gift certificate and a framed certificate for public display announcing Rarick's accomplishments. Rarick and her classmates will receive Zaner-Bloser T-shirts.
Now, Rarick and 13 other U.S. elementary students are candidates for Zaner-Bloser Handwriting Grand Champion honors.
The Grand National Champion will receive a Nintendo Wii, in addition to the State and National Grade-Level Winner prizes. The classroom of the National Grand Champion will be awarded a new computer, valued at $1,000. Meanwhile, the teacher of the Grand National Champion will be awarded a trip for two to Washington D.C.
What is the key to Rarick's secret to great handwriting?
"I just practice and concentrate," she said.
Rarick's mother, Kris Schaffer, said her daughter has always taken her time and written clearly.
With computers and word processing seemingly replacing the written word, is handwriting important anymore?
Rarick thinks so;
"You don't have to look for each letter," she said. "It's just in your mind."
Rarick estimated she uses a pen or pencil for 90-percent of her written communication. She plans to continue handwriting most of the time.
At 10 a.m. May 22 at the Huron County Administration Building, Rarick and many Huron County public and parochial students will be honored for placing first, second or third in the contest at the county level.