If young Ethny Schuett ever becomes a doctor, she may have the best penmanship that profession has ever seen.

The Hopkins kindergartner's entry, judged the best from among roughly 18,000 others, won the annual Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest for her grade level.

Ethny, who attends the Agamim Classical Academy charter school, put pencil to paper on the official entry sheet and wrote below her full name this required sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Then she wrote what she likes best about handwriting: "It is fun, and it is a good challenge."

Ethny's teacher, Paige Schneider, said Tuesday that her prized pupil "has had beautiful penmanship from early on, [but] I didn't really even consider that she would be a winner."

Grades K through 2 submitted printed entries, while 3 through 8 are cursive. They are judged on legibility, shape, size, spacing and slant.

The required sentence is chosen because it contains every letter of the alphabet.

Penmanship "is a large part of our focus" in class, Ethny's teacher said. "We do letters every day and repeat them until they meet that level of mastery that I require of them."

The contest is organized by the Zaner-Bloser curriculum supplier, based in Grandview Heights, Ohio. This year's 27th annual contest for grades K through 8 attracted nearly 250,000 entries from public and private schools that use the company's materials.

Each grade's champion receives a trophy, $500 and educational materials valued at $1,000 for the student's school.

Also, the teacher of each winner is awarded the choice to attend either the International Literacy Association annual conference in Austin, Texas, or the Staff Development for Educators National Conference in Las Vegas. Both are in July. Schneider said she's opting for the professional training opportunity in Austin.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482