Santa Maria 6th-grader wins penmanship award
Practice makes perfect.
This well-known maxim is applied to everything from sports to school subjects to specialized skills.
And it’s proven true for Noah Jebaraj in recent weeks.
Noah, a rising seventh-grader at Valley Christian Academy, was chosen as the sixth grade semi-finalist in this year’s Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest after years of practicing cursive handwriting.
This accomplishment means that out of all the 6th-grade contest entries, Noah’s entry ranked as the second best penmanship nationwide and the best in California.
The contest, which occurs annually, recognizes students from across the county for excellent handwriting. This year, the contest drew about 70,000 student participants between kindergarten and eighth grade, and only 20 of those received top honors, according to a news release.
Each student was asked to pen the phrase, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” because it contains every letter of the alphabet. The Zaner-Bloser judges then selected winners based on shape, size, slanting and space of the letters, according to a news release.
After practicing cursive in his classes since first grade, Noah said he was completely surprised and excited to receive an award from Zaner-Bloser.
“I was very happy,” Noah told the News-Press. “I always wanted to win an award.”
Noah, alongside his classmates at Valley Christian Academy in Santa Maria, began practicing cursive in first grade, utilizing handwriting books in the school’s curriculum all the way through elementary school.
Teachers then choose one student from each class with the best penmanship to submit to Zaner-Bloser, according to Beulah Jebaraj, Noah’s mother.
Ms. Jebaraj told the News-Press that she found out that Noah had been named a semi-finalist a few days before her son found out. The school decided to honor Noah during his sixth-grade graduation ceremony and present him with his trophy in front of all his classmates and friends.
“We were very excited,” Ms. Jebaraj said. “We actually knew a few weeks before Noah knew, so we had to keep the surprise a secret and it was really hard. But we were very excited. And of course, we were honored that he got this award.”
She continued, “He’s been trying so hard ever since, I don’t know, second grade or third grade. I think he always wanted to win an award but he was second or third in his class and his paper was not submitted. So this year, when we knew his handwriting was submitted, we were expecting a state award, but to win as a semifinalist, it was an awesome feeling. It was definitely exciting.”
At the sixth-grade graduation ceremony, Noah was presented with a Zaner-Bloser trophy and certificate to celebrate his achievement. This made the day even more special for Noah, who was already slated to give a speech and receive a medal for being the salutatorian of his class.
As he looks forward to starting seventh grade at Valley Christian in the fall, Noah said he hopes to enter the handwriting contest once again as he continues to practice cursive in next year’s curriculum.