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At a time when cursive handwriting is on the wane, she loves it. And excels at it.

Cary sixth-grader wins national award for handwriting

Sage Collier, a sixth-grade student at Grace Christian School, was named a national champion in the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. The 12-year-old talks about why she thinks cursive writing is superior to texting.
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Sage Collier, a sixth-grade student at Grace Christian School, was named a national champion in the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. The 12-year-old talks about why she thinks cursive writing is superior to texting.

Many 12-year-olds express themselves by texting, but Sage Collier prefers a more traditional way of communicating. With cursive handwriting.

Sage’s skill with writing curves and loops was recognized Tuesday when she was recognized as the sixth-grade national champion in the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. Sage received a standing ovation from students and parents at an awards ceremony at GRACE Christian School near the border of Raleigh and Cary.

“At first I thought it was a mistake and they had the wrong person,” Sage said in an interview Tuesday. “But then I saw my name on the plaque at the bottom of the trophy so I knew this was real, this was not a dream.

“I think this is a great opportunity and a privilege that I have that not many people have, and I’m really thankful for that.”

Cursive writing has become a lost art for many in the 21st century. But at GRACE Christian, students are taught handwriting skills through fourth grade. Even in fifth- and sixth-grades, many assignments are still handwritten.

In addition to Sage’s national award, GRACE second-grade student Cecily Shibley was a state handwriting champion for North Carolina.

It’s an environment that Sage has thrived in. The handwriting award was just one of the many honors she picked up Tuesday.

“It sounds probably really weird, but I love handwriting,” Sage said. “It’s something I enjoy.”

Sage, who lives in Cary, said she feels she can best express herself with her handwriting. She often writes notes and cards to her friends in cursive.

“There’s so much more that you can do with handwriting than texting, like fancy fonts and calligraphy,” she said.

Sage won a trophy and a $500 check from Zaner-Bloser.

“It’s worth practicing your handwriting,” Caroline Mauney, a representative of Zaner-Bloser, told the audience.

Seven of the nine national grade-level champions in the Zaner-Bloser contest are students at private religious schools like Sage is.

Lawmakers across the nation have expressed concerns that public schools aren’t teaching cursive handwriting. At least 21 states require cursive instruction, the News & Observer previously reported.

In 2013, North Carolina lawmakers passed the “Back to Basics” law, which says public schools must teach cursive writing so that students “create readable documents through legible cursive handwriting by the end of fifth grade.”

School districts report they’re following the law, but some state legislators have expressed skepticism that students are being taught cursive. Last year, the General Assembly passed a law requiring school districts to report annually on how they’re teaching cursive.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.


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