“I really believe in cursive writing,” says former Board of Education member Patricia Riedel, who has helped organize a Rome school district cursive writing contest that is being launched for the fifth consecutive year.
The contest, for students in grades 3 and 4 at each of the district’s seven elementary schools, this year will involve composing an essay in cursive writing on the topic of “What I like best about Rome,” Riedel said.
She is organizing it in cooperation with district Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Christopher Brewer.
Essays, which Riedel said should be no longer than one page, are to be completed by April 2. She said she will pick up the entries from the school district central office that day and bring them to President/Publisher of the Rome Daily Sentinel, Stephen B. Waters, whom she said has “graciously agreed again to be the judge” for the essays.
Riedel noted the winners and their prizes will be announced at the Board of Education’s May 3 meeting at the district office/pre-K facility, 409 Bell Road.
Riedel, who conceived the contest five years ago while expressing concern about the decline of cursive writing in schools nationally, said “the bottom line” is “if you can’t write in cursive, you can’t read in cursive.” It is “kind of like a lost art,” she commented, adding that there have been “enough lost arts....We don’t need to lose this one.” Supporters have cited the importance of cursive writing as an overall tool in learning, and have mentioned its importance such as in signing a name on documents.
Brewer said “it’s great” to have the contest, adding that it gives students a chance to practice overall writing skills that they’re being taught. Cursive writing is “a lost art for most people,” he remarked, and it is “a great thing for kids...to be able to do this.”
The cursive writing contest “goes along well with the writing curriculum” overall, said Brewer; it “ties in well...with what we do in the classroom.”
For this year’s contest, a total of $1,505 in donated prize money will be distributed to students, said Riedel.
It will include $60 each for 14 first-place winners in grades 3 and 4 at the seven schools, plus $30 each for 14 second-place finishers and $15 each for 14 third-place finishers.
There also will be one honorable mention award per school at $5 each. Prizes will be in the form of checks to the individual students.
The donated prize money includes $100 from each of the seven elementary schools’ parent-teacher groups, said Riedel. Other donations include $305 from Riedel, $300 from former school board member Mary Davis, and $200 from local resident Ann Meisenhelder.
Among judging criteria for last year’s contest were several categories for cursive writing appearance such as form, slant and spacing, plus the opinion writing including the introduction, transitions between ideas, and the ending. “I’m looking forward to it,” Riedel said of this year’s contest. “We hope we can keep it going.”