New York Times praises 10-year-old Fil-Am Edbert Aquino for handwriting skills

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Edbert Aquino
Edbert Aquino is a fifth grader at the Academy of Our Lady Grace in New Jersey. Photo from The New York Times.

The New York Times (NYTimes) is all praises for 10-year-old Filipino-American wonder kid Edbert Aquino for his handwriting, amidst a revival of cursive writing in the state of New Jersey.

Though for most older people grade school also meant learning how to write in cursive, the penmanship style that connects all letters, the current education system in the United States does not require the teaching of the skill. Coupled with the proliferation of computers, cursive writing has been practically phased out across the country. In New Jersey, public schools have not been teaching cursive writing since 2010.

But a revival is in the works, says the NYTimes, and Zaner-Bloser, a company that publishes cursive workbooks and sponsors a national cursive writing competition to reward outstanding manuscript and cursive skills among students in grades K–8, says cursive instruction has been restored to 24 states.

Bergen County’s Edbert Aquino, a fifth grader from the Roman Catholic school of the Academy of Our Lady of Grace in Fairview has been enjoying writing in cursive since he was in second grade and had even become the 2018 National Handwriting Contest champion.

Aquino’s feat earned him several prizes: a national trophy, $500 cash prize, and $1,000 worth of educational materials for his school.

Edbert Aquino was the Grand National Handwriting Champion in 2018. Photo from NJ.com

The young Aquino’s mother, Carnina, told the NJ.com’s Allison Pries in 2018 that she was surprised at her son’s handwriting saying, “It’s better than my handwriting.”

Edbert’s interest in learning how to write in cursive was encouraged by his parents with online lessons.

“I really like to write in cursive because it is nice and neat to read. Writing in cursive is easy for me because I believe practice makes perfect,” Edbert Aquino said in the video released by the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

Edbert also shared to Tracey Tully of NYTimes in December 2019, that when he writes in cursive, he is forced to slow down, allowing his ideas to flow more freely and helps with creativity, and results in him writing better.

Lori Solan, Edbert’s teacher, praised his skill and his attention to details. “He’s very neat and deliberate about his work and it shows through his handwriting,” Solan said of Aquino in the Catholic School report after he won the championship in 2018.

Edbert Aquino’s handwriting. Photo from NJ.com

Writing is also a form of art as it is considered a “life-long skill“, said Filomena D’Amico, principal of the Academy of Our Lady of Grace. “Some schools overlook it, but we definitely see the importance of cursive writing,” she added.

D’Amico added that even though assignments are sometimes done on computers and submitted electronically, there are times work must be written in cursive and turned in on paper. This forces the students to disconnect from technology and makes a healthy combination of learning.

Edbert, who wants to be a doctor who writes neatly, acknowledges that winning the national handwriting contest is an achievement. “I’ve very proud of myself, it took a lot of hard work to do,” he said.

He then gave a message to others who are trying to improve their cursive writing, advising others to “take your time and concentrate. Otherwise, people might not be able to read it and might think it says something else,” he said.

Edbert Aquino writing in cursive. Photo from NYTimes.

The New York Times had also featured Filipino photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani whose images of Filipinos in Hong Kong earned her a New York scholarship.

Bergen County is headed by Arvin Amatorio, the second Filipino mayor in New Jersey.

The Philippine Postal Corporation advocates letter writing through contests to celebrate National Teachers’ Month.

SEND cheers and congratulations to Edbert Aquino and advocates of cursive writing around the world!

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