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Cedar Rapids 2nd Grader Named to Top 6 for Handwriting

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Noah Upah may only be in the 2nd grade, but this Cedar Rapids native knows how to write. In fact, his handwriting skills earned him a gold medal at St. Jude Elementary on Tuesday.

“I was filled with joy and happiness,” he said.

Noah’s school participated in the annual nationwide handwriting competition, sponsored by language arts company Zaner-Bloser, last fall. He never thought his entry would name him one of the best six handwriters in the state.

“It’s almost like an art contest,” said Jane Dalrymple, the Zaner-Blloser sales representative for Minnesota and Iowa. “Handwriting can be very artistic, and it can really do a lot to enhance reading and writing.”

Over 300,000 students from kindergarten to 8th grade entered the competition, and were asked to all write the same sentence that included every letter of the alphabet. Entries are judged on shape, size, spacing, and slant.

“This is just an opportunity for kids to get their creativity out there and be recognized for that,” she said.

Noah’s teacher, Cathy Soukop, says he loves to read and write, and this award shows he’s good at it.

“Noah’s very responsible, he loves to learn,” she said. “He’s very well-rounded.”

And on Tuesday, Noah’s school hosted an assembly to award him and his teacher for their achievements, and his family showed up as well. It was all a surprise for him.

“It’s like I’m going to cry,” he said.

Soukop and Dalrymple agree that, in a world becoming more consumed by technology and keyboards, handwriting may seem to some as a thing of the past. But the research shows it significantly improves literacy skills, and that’s why it’s important to still teach.

“One of the things I really like is that the teachers make a big deal about this in the classroom, because it is important for kids to know that their artwork, their handwriting, what they’re doing with literacy is really important,” Dalrymple said.

For Noah, just having that gold medal is enough to motivate him to continue carving his craft.

“I’ll probably put it on every day,” he said.

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