8-year-old writes script for success

Cursive: A second-grader's fine hand wins him state honors and catapults him to a national contest. Cursive handwriting spells prize for 2nd-grader

April 20, 2000|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Andrew Konetzni likes to copy his first name in fancy, fluid cursive letters.

He likes the way the letter "A" looks -- a roller coaster loop with a track that trails off into the lowlands of the lowercase "n."

"I like the letter `A' because it is part of my name and because of the big loop and the way it slants," said Andrew, an 8-year-old pupil in Barbara Thomas' second-grade class at St. Paul Lutheran School in Catonsville.

Andrew's "A's" -- and his "D's," "P's" and "Z's" for that matter -- won him the title this month of state cursive handwriting champion.

"I haven't been in a contest in my whole entire life -- it feels very good," he said this week.

As part of his prize, Andrew took home a $500 savings ond, a certificate and a rosewood pen -- a grown-up writing utensil he said he won't use until fourth grade, when teachers allow pupils to switch from pencils to pens.

"I didn't win the whole thing yet, just the state," said Andrew, one of 172 state winners competing for the national championship. The contest, also open to third- and fourth-graders, is sponsored by Columbus, Ohio-based Zaner-Bloser Inc., a publisher of handwriting textbooks.

Andrew is awaiting notification from Zaner-Bloser to see how his writing sample fared in the national contest.

The second-grader is no newcomer to cursive, a handwriting style usually taught in the second grade.

"I've known how to do cursive since I was in first grade," he said. "I learned myself, because I like to write neat, and it looks like a fancy handwriting thing. Sometimes my mom helped me. My sister Hannah helped sometimes, too."

Andrew's parents, Ellicott City residents Pam and Gary Konetzni, are proud of their son, and not at all surprised by his penmanship. He styles his hair, tucks in his shirts and makes their morning coffee.

"He is the tidiest child I know," said Pam Konetzni, who laughed when she heard her son told a reporter his closet was "a dump." "He takes after his father. He's very tidy."

Though he practices all the time at home and at school, Andrew was nervous when he wrote out his name for the handwriting contest -- so nervous that he forgot the "h" in Thomas, his middle name. Because of the gaffe, his certificate reads: "Andrew Tomas Konetzni."

"Sometimes, when I try to do something neat, I get a tiny bit frustrated and I shiver," Andrew said, recalling the way he felt during the competition's handwriting exam when he and his classmates were asked to write their full names, copy a sentence and write a sentence of their own.

Andrew, who collects Star Wars Episode I action figures and plays with Legos, said he never liked printing. "You have to make it equal," he said, referring to the straight, measured letters. "With cursive, you don't have to."

Andrew dismissed the myth that girls have better penmanship,

"Maybe some people say that, but it's been shown that boys can do it, too."

In addition to the letter "A," Andrew likes the cursive uppercase "D," which he says looks like a duck when it's turned on its side.

What's tough to decipher, according to Andrew, is his Aunt Allison's handwriting. "She just has a problem or something," he said.

Pub Date: 4/20/00

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