A champ at cursive writing

Southwest MN fourth grader wins national handwriting honors

Photo courtesy of Jodi Smith Caden Baune, a fourth grade student at Red Rock Central Elementary, was named a Grand National Champion in the 2024 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. Baune’s cursive writing was picked as the top of the fourth grade entries in the contest. Last week, he was honored with a trophy and medal at a school assembly.

Caden Baune has good handwriting – in fact, it’s some of the best in the nation. This spring, a sample of Baune’s cursive earned him Grand National Champion honors in the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

Baune, a fourth grade student at Red Rock Central Elementary in Lamberton, was honored with a trophy, a medal and a $500 prize at a school assembly last week.

“It was really exciting,” Baune, 10, said of learning he had been named a national champion. “I didn’t even know what to say. I was kind of speechless.”

Zaner-Bloser, a company that publishes handwriting and other educational programs, holds the National Handwriting Contest for students in grades K-6. According to the company, about 80,000 kids nationwide submit handwriting entries each year.

Red Rock Central has participated in the handwriting contest for many years, said fourth grade teacher Jodi Smith. “We encourage all our kids to try to fill out the entry form,” Smith said.

Younger students turn in samples of printing, while students in grades 3-6 submit cursive samples.

“We would have to write, ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.’ It has all the letters in the alphabet,” Baune said. “I did two sheets, and asked my teacher and my mom which was better. They both picked the same one.”

Contest entries get judged on factors like the shape, size, spacing and slant of the letters, according to Zaner-Bloser. The contest selects one Grand National Champion from each grade level. Baune was this year’s champion in the fourth grade.

“We try to encourage students with cursive (writing),” Smith said. It’s important for students to know the cursive alphabet – both for being able to read cursive writing, and tasks like writing a signature, she said.

“On my worksheets, I don’t write in cursive very much, but I do sign my name in cursive,” Baune said.

Baune said he did some practicing for the handwriting contest. Some cursive letters are a little tricky, he said. “It’s mostly capitals for me,” Baune said. “And my other classmates would tell me which letters were hard, like T, I, the capital D.” But there wasn’t a capital D in the contest sentence, he said.

Smith said it was a big honor for Baune to be named a national champion.

“It was very exciting,” Baune said of being presented with the award. “There were lots of pictures.” Baune also had his picture taken together with Red Rock Central senior Ella Erickson, who was named a Grand National Champion in the 2016 handwriting contest.

Aside from the handwriting contest, Baune said he likes playing sports like basketball, football and baseball, as well as playing with his dog, and helping his grandpa around the farm.


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