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Jennifer Kasunick, second-grader at Normandy Elementary, wins at National Braille Challenge
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 Jennifer with her Braille Note
Jennifer with her Braille Note, which lets her read text in braille and write in braille.
 Jennifer with her teachers and mom
Jennifer Kasunick (third from left) with teachers Helen Zdrojewski (far left), Stacey Evans and her mother, Michelle Kasunick (far right).
         Jennifer receiving her award
Jennifer is awarded second place in her age category in the 2013 National Braille Challenge Finals in Los Angeles. Actor Patrick Warburton (best known for playing David Puddy in the Seinfeld television series) is at right. (You can watch Jennifer receive her award on this YouTube video at marker 2.03.17.

Jennifer Kasunick, recently a second-grader at Normandy Elementary School, has been selected as one of the top braille readers in the entire country. She placed second in her age group (the Apprentice level) in the 2013 National Braille Challenge Finals held in Los Angeles, California on June 21 and 22.

Jennifer qualified for the honor by first scoring at a high level in a preliminary contest, proctored for her individually by her Teacher of the Visually Impaired at Bay Village Schools, Helen Zdrojewski. Jennifer was one of only 60 finalists out of more than 1,000 contestants from 39 states and Canada. She was required to take a test in braille that required spelling, reading and writing to demonstrate reading comprehension.
   Jennifer with her family in Los Angeles
Jennifer with her mom Michelle, brother Michael and dad Fred Kasunick.

The eight-year-old went on to match her skills against the best braille readers in the nation at the Braille Institute of Los Angeles. She competed in categories that required transcription, typing and reading of braille using a device called a Perkins Brailler. Each category is designed to test braille skills in several areas—reading comprehension, braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading and braille speed and accuracy, depending upon the age level.

Jennifer and her parents, Michelle and Fred Kasunick, as well as her brother, Michael, attended the gala awards ceremony at the Universal Hilton Hotel, hosted by television and voice-over actor Patrick Worburton. Worburton described Jennifer's other interests, including that she has achieved a green belt in karate and can ride a two-wheel bike. Jennifer was so excited that when it was over, she called and woke Mrs. Zdrojewski at midnight (only 9 p.m. in Los Angeles).

"It was my best wake-up call ever!" the teacher said. Zdrojewski works with Jennifer's regular education teacher, Stacey Evans, to make sure Jennifer can access all the curriculum being studied by other students in the class.

This was the second award this school year won by Jennifer, who also won in her age category in the 2012 Cleveland Plain Dealer Holiday Card contest with a braille Christmas tree card. Jennifer, who turned nine years old a couple days after her win at the national braille competition, will begin Westerly Elementary as a third-grader this fall.


Bay Village City School District 377 Dover Center Road Bay Village, Ohio 44140 (440) 617-7300
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