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High school realtime writer competes against traditional keyboarding students

Who doesn’t love a good race? Remember your childhood, when you heard those exhilarating words, “On your mark. Get set. Go!”? You could almost feel the blood rushing from your head into your legs as you took off at what seemed like lightning speed without even a glance back. Those were the days!

Jessica Kuhlmann, a high school court reporting student, relived those feelings when she recently raced and won against traditional keyboarding students in a realtime writing contest. Wait a minute – did you just say a “high school court reporting student”? Where do they offer a court reporting program to high school students?

Kuhlmann is a senior in the Broadcast Captioning and Court Reporting major at South Technical High School in St. Louis County, Mo. This program offers the only high school curriculum of its kind in the United States and has been in place since 2004.

The program was conceived and initiated by Judy Larson, an NCRA certified reporting instructor and former winner of NCRA’s CASE Award of Excellence. Larson was the tech prep coordinator at St. Louis Community College when she came up with the concept of developing a high school court reporting program in the St. Louis area. Since then, many students have enrolled at the secondary level, and many have articulated their credits to the court reporting major at STLCC.

Kuhlmann and her classmates began the program their junior year when they learned machine writing theory and the basics of CAT software. They were also introduced to medical, legal, and technical terminology during their first year in the program. During their senior year, they are using what they’ve already learned to prepare for their state’s Certified Court Reporter exam. Each week, they learn the meanings of more complex medical and legal terms using the Missouri Court Reporters’ CCR study guide.

I asked Kuhlmann, “What do you like best about being a high school court reporting major?”

“Initially, I loved the fact that I could get a head start with my career and being able to, if this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, without spending thousands of dollars in college trying to figure it out,” she said. Now that she is in her second year, she says, “I basically love everything about the class, but my favorite part is writing on the machine in realtime. Realtime writing becomes addicting. I also like writing my favorite movies, TV shows, and music.”

The recent speedwriting contests in which Jessica competed and won against traditional keyboarding students show that her practice is paying off. Students competed during middle and high school assemblies using the hit song from the recently released movie, The Great Gatsby. Their realtime writing of “Young and Beautiful” performed by Lana Del Rey was projected on side-by-side screens. Audience members could compare their speed and accuracy as they wrote while the song played. Of course, traditional keyboarding students could not come close to Jessica’s realtime output.

I asked Jessica if she aspires to be an NCRA speedwriting competitor after she graduates from St. Louis Community College. She replied, “I don’t know. That sounds like a lot of pressure, but I think it would be fun to try!”

I can just envision it now: On your mark. Get set. Go! Mark Kislingbury, you’d better stay sharp! The next generation is racing your way!

Kathleen M. Saunders, CRI, M.Ed., is an associate instructor at St. Louis Community College. She can be reached at . Contact Dr. Patti Ziegler at  for information about the court reporting program.