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PTHS student excels in handwriting
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Pine Tree Hill School third-grader Trenton Stokes won a national award for his cursive writing earlier this month. Stokes was one of 16 chosen from more than 300,000 contestants who entered the 21st Annual National Handwriting Contest. - photo by Miciah Bennett

Who says good penmanship is a thing of the past?

Trenton Stokes, 9, a student at Pine Tree Hill School (PTHS), is one of 16 winners in the 21st Annual National Handwriting Contest. More than 300,000 students participated in the competition and approximately 3 million have entered the contest during its 21-year history. 

Each participating school holds its own contest and enters the winning student from each grade. The handwriting was judged according to Zaner-Bloser Keys to Legibility: size, shape, spacing and slant. The company awards over $100,000 in educational materials and cash prizes to participating schools and award winners. Zaner-Bloser is a subsidiary of Highlights for Children whose focus is on educational services. 

Trenton said he didn’t know anything about the competition until his third-grade teacher, Randy Self, asked him if he wanted to enter. Trenton said he wanted to do it because of the prizes. He got a medal, and will receive a trophy and $250.

Self, who has been at PTHS for nine years, said this is the first year he has gotten an e-mail about the National Handwriting Contest.

“I knew right away he was a school winner. I figured he’d win state because it was perfect writing. I never thought he would win nationals,” he said.

Trenton said he and his classmates are required to do their spelling homework in cursive for practice. Self showed the class a video of basic strokes, Trenton said. Self said he noticed Trenton’s print was nice and thought he would transition well into cursive writing.

“Mr. Self said that when he first saw me write in cursive, he knew I was good at it even though I just started,” he said. “When I heard that I won, I was so happy; I was just overjoyed.”

Trenton said he is going to give 10 percent of his prize money to his church and buy a Star Wars Lego set. Although he has some of the best cursive in the county, he still has some difficulties with the letter Z in lowercase and capital letters and has difficulty writing D and E in capital letters. He attributes his difficulties to missing those lessons. Trenton also said he wants to work on speed.

He said his favorite subject is science and he loves to read.

“The more you read, the better you write,” Trenton said. “I heard that on TV.”

He has enjoyed the recognition PTHS has given him, but, he noted, he has found that doing interviews makes his mouth dry.