The write stuff: Elgin kindergartner wins national handwriting competition

  • St. Thomas More Catholic School kindergartner Rhys Acas shows off his trophy to classmates Thursday in Elgin after winning the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest for his grade level. He also won $500.

    St. Thomas More Catholic School kindergartner Rhys Acas shows off his trophy to classmates Thursday in Elgin after winning the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest for his grade level. He also won $500. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • St. Thomas More Catholic School's Rhys Acas was the national kindergarten winner in the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

    St. Thomas More Catholic School's Rhys Acas was the national kindergarten winner in the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • St. Thomas More Catholic School's Rhys Acas was the national kindergarten winner in the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

    St. Thomas More Catholic School's Rhys Acas was the national kindergarten winner in the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/28/2021 6:36 AM

Even from behind a mask, the smile on Rhys Acas' face was obvious when the St. Thomas More Catholic School kindergartner was called to the front of his class Thursday.

The Rev. Ryan Browning waited for him, holding the object that was making Rhys light up -- his trophy for being named the kindergarten-level winner of the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

 

Held annually for the past 30 years, the contest is open to all students in kindergarten through eighth grade and attracts approximately 80,000 entries a year. Rhys was the only winner from Illinois this year. He's also the first student from St. Thomas More to win nationally in the nine years the school has participated in the contest.

"I like being the champion," Rhys said, when asked how it felt. He said it was his first trophy.

Teacher Sue Bilderback said Rhys "has very precise motor skills, which makes him a really good printer and why he won this contest."

"Plus, he is a very bright little boy and very hard worker," Bilderback said.

Principal Sonja Keane said two other students from the school won at the state level: first-grader Shelby Scott and sixth-grader Maddie Manganiello.

"We're very proud, very excited for all three of them," Keane said.

Kindergarten through second-grade students submit printed entries, while third- through eighth-graders show off their cursive handwriting skills. Winners are judged on Zaner-Bloser's "Keys to Legibility" -- shape, size, spacing and slant.

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In addition to a trophy that stood a little more than half his size, Rhys received $500 for winning.

What does a kindergartner do with $500?

"I have a bank to keep my money," he said. "I've got some pennies and I also have five dollars in there."

Make that $505 and some pennies.

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