Blessed Sacrament student wins state handwriting contest

CHARLESTON — Viviana Ortiz has some tips for people who want to improve their handwriting.
“Always slant your book and practice a lot. And always follow the guidelines,” she said.
The third-grader from Blessed Sacrament School was recently named the state handwriting champion for her age group, so she should know the “write” secret to success.  
She is the daughter of Oscar Ortiz and Melba Guerrero. Her sister Paula also attends Blessed Sacrament.
Maureen Jeter, the school’s third-grade teacher, said Viviana had the best handwriting sample in the class, so it was submitted to the 17th annual Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.
There, a panel of experts judged the writers on their skills in shaping, slanting, spacing and sizing their letters. And for the second year in a row, Blessed Sacrament came away the winner. Lauren Croghan won last year.
“It’s a real testament to Mrs. Jeter,” said Sister Judy Holler, principal and member of the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.
Jeter said students at Blessed Sacrament begin learning cursive letter formation in second-grade. In third-grade, they have lessons every day for the first half of the year.
“They look forward to the opportunity to learn cursive writing,” she said. “They know it’s the next step and it’s a more grown-up thing.”  
It’s also an important tool in students’ cognitive thinking and eye-hand coordination, Jeter said. “It’s a form of communication they will use for the rest of their lives, and people need to be able to read what they write,” she added.
Just like sports or music, beautiful writing takes practice.
“I struggled with it at first,” Viviana said, adding that it took about a year for her to develop the flowing style she has now.  
Looking at a reporter’s handwritten notes, the champ wrinkled her nose and smiled noncommittally.  
A native of Colombia, South America, the perpetually smiling charmer is well on her way to becoming a Renaissance woman.
Already fluent in English and Spanish, the straight-A student is now learning French. Viviana said math is her favorite subject and swimming is her favorite sport. She also likes to ice skate, and play soccer, basketball and chess.  
In her spare time, the eight-year-old likes to visit new places. Last summer, her family drove to Iowa to visit friends, and Viviana said she hopes to stay with family in Colombia this summer, or maybe go to Canada.
“I’ve been in snow. I’ve been in really hot weather and I’ve been in rain,” she said of her experiences.
For Viviana, the hot weather of Colombia is the best. “I’ve been asking my family all year to move back,” she said.
No matter where she ends up, success is sure to follow.