New challenge began

A new challenge began

May 21, 2012 marked a new phase in my journey in the United Stated: I began to intern at GateHouse Media New England’s Metro unit in Needham, a city about more than 1 hour by train plus taxi rides from Boston. GateHouse Media is one of the America’s largest local newspaper incorporations, which owns 79 dailies and 257 weeklies across the nation plus 405 locally focused websites. Although it is very challenging, especially I had no experience in reporting, I am enjoying my internship at GateHouse Media New England because this is the first time in my life I feel surely that I can become a professional reporter. Here is my first story published on Medfield Press, one of 16 newspapers managed by GateHouse Media New England’s Metro unit.

Second grader’s got the write stuff

Medfield 2nd grader is state handwriting champ

By Châu Mai,

My first story was published on Medfield Press on June 8. Photo:

MEDFIELD — Today, handwriting is often seen as an old-fashioned practice — even a waste of time — especially since typing on a computer or mobile device is so much more common.

That is not true of Max Gobin, the Ralph Wheelock School second grader, who prefers writing by hand because, “I dislike looking for letters on a computer (keyboard).”

His interest in penmanship a year ago paid off recently, when the eight-year-old won the top spot for Massachusetts public school second graders in the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.

Zaner-Bloser is a publisher of PreK-Grade 8 educational materials.

“I was very excited when I won the handwriting championship,” Max said. “I wanted to participate in the handwriting contest because I really enjoy writing and drawing.”

Nancy Landfield, his second grade teacher at the Wheelock School, where handwriting is mandatory for all students, said Max is the first from Medfield ever to win at the state level.

And this is in 21 years of competition.

The shy, soft-spoken boy is highly motivated… and confident.

“When he knows he has to do something, he is really committed to accomplishing it and doing it with his best ability,” said Max’s mother, Christen Gobin.

Max “definitely” thought he would win at the school contest for second graders, she said, “but he was very surprised when he won for the state of Massachusetts.”

My first subjet is very shy when I interviewed him but he is very confident in writing by hand. Photo by Christen Gobin

“Mrs. (Juliana) Colantoni really deserves the credit,” Ms. Landfield said. “She was Max’s first grade teacher (at the Memorial School), where handwriting is taught and emphasized.”

More than 325,000 students nationwide participated in the Zaner-Bloser annual handwriting competition this year, according to the group’s website. Schools held their own handwriting contests and entered the winning student for each grade, first through eighth.

Two grade-level winners were selected for each state, one from public schools and the other from private schools.

“They judged my writing on spacing, slant, straight line, round circle and size,” Max said.

When writing, the paramount thing to the 2012 state handwriting champion is a sharpened pencil.

According to Max, the keys to having good handwriting are to, “Take your time, make sure you have good spacing, and you should always put a period at the end of the sentence.”

While some students his age spend their free time at home watching television or playing on the computer, Max writes and draws.

When he grows up, he wants to become “an artist or an engineer who invents robots,” he said.

When asked if he would like to become a handwriting coach, Max said, “Maybe, 32 percent.”

As the state handwriting champion, Max was awarded an engraved Zaner-Bloser “State winner” medal. The Wheelock School was offered a $200 coupon redeemable for Zaner-Bloser educational materials.

 Contact Medfield Press correspondent Châu Mai at


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