Mary wanted to win. Unfortunately, so did her friend Danny Peters. It was well known that both had excellent skills. They always got A's on cursive assignments.
The competition was fierce. It was so close that the teacher couldn't decide a winner and declared a tie. But because the school could only send one submission per grade, she had to make a decision: The tiebreaker went to Danny.
"I got so sad," the now 10-year-old says. "At the assembly [where they announced Danny the state winner], I was, like, crying."
She swore in the next competition, she would reign supreme.
So for the next two years, Mary practiced. "When I had vocab words to study, I'd write them out three times each then circle the one I thought looked the nicest," she says.
In fourth grade, her teacher, Mrs. Preto made the announcement Mary had been waiting for: The class would once again participate in the state competition, sponsored by the Zaner-Bloser Language Arts and Reading Co. This year, students had to handwrite a paragraph about the importance of having penmanship.
Mary was feeling very confident about her entry, until she saw Danny's. "His looked really good," she says.
Her heart was beating fast when her teacher announced the winner. But she broke into a huge smile when she heard her name.
Winning the school title was all Mary really cared about — until St. Brendan received word that Mary had won the state title. Principal Julie Onacila called an assembly to announce the award.
Mary stood proud on stage, holding her medal and certificate.
"After two years of practicing, it felt good to know that I had the best handwriting in the state," Mary says. Now she's worried for next year. "Danny's handwriting is still really good."
12:00 AM EST
August 18, 2010