Handwriting still counts: Cunningham ES fifth-grader wins national contest

Maryam Al-Saidi

A Cunningham Elementary School fifth-grader’s skill with a pen has earned her one of the top prizes in a national handwriting contest for students with special needs.

Maryam Al-Saidi, who recently transferred from Cromwell Valley Elementary School in Towson, Maryland, placed first in the “manuscript” (or printing) category of the National Maxim Award, which is sponsored by Zaner-Bloser and only open to students with a cognitive delay, or an intellectual, physical, or developmental disability.

Al-Saidi has a variant form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a peripheral neuropathy disease that causes atrophy of the muscles in the hands and legs.

“Maryam is a new student, but we have learned that she is one determined young lady,” said Anna White, principal at Cunningham Elementary School. “She teaches us that we should strive to do our best no matter what the circumstance—and we’re so excited that she’s being recognized for her determination.”

Maryam’s contest entry was submitted from Cromwell Valley Elementary, but she recently began attending Cunningham, so both schools will receive an award.

The other winner of the national contest was Daniel Shi, a third-grader from Brooklyn, N.Y., who earned top honors in the cursive category.

“These students are truly an inspiration and they deserve to be recognized for their exemplary handwriting and perseverance,” said Bob Page, president of Zaner-Bloser. “Each year, we’re amazed at the dedication and commitment demonstrated by the special needs students who compete for the Nicholas Maxim Award.”

Each child will received a $1,000 cash prize and a trophy. Their schools will receive a framed certificate and a Zaner-Bloser coupon to spend as they wish. Zaner-Bloser is a wholly owned subsidiary of Highlights for Children.