BROCKPORT, N.Y. — A form of handwriting that’s become somewhat of a lost art is getting a new push in some places. Students returned from winter break to California schools, where cursive handwriting is now a lesson required by that state’s laws.

Meanwhile, in the Rochester area, there’s a competition designed to help students master cursive. 

In a classroom that resembles a trip back in time, the lesson Christopher Albrecht is teaching deals with what’s sort of become a thing of the past.

“So let me ask you this,” said Albrecht to a group of students assembled at Clarkson Historical Society. “Why do we do cursive? We talked about this a little bit in class, why do we do it? Is it just about signing your name?”

Albrecht teaches fourth grade at Fred W. Hill School in Brockport. He’s also one of a dwindling number of educators who teach cursive handwriting.

“One of the greatest challenges we're facing in education is creativity,” said Albrecht. “And cursive brings out that creative side in that it's really an art.”

Flowing, connected characters. Quickly becoming a lost art. Especially in schools where state curriculum standards and an emphasis on keyboards have nearly rendered penmanship obsolete.

“With all the demands that teachers are under right now for curriculum, and even post-pandemic now, we're trying to catch up a lot of the academic and behavioral skills,” he said. “Things like cursive are very tough things to fit into the day."

It fits in here, where Clarkson Historical Society runs an annual cursive writing contest. The competition is open to any student, anywhere, from grade four through high school. Entries have to be postmarked by February 12, Abe Lincoln’s birthday.

“In this unique environment, it's almost like going back in time for the kids,” said Heather Camman, vice president of the historical society. “And learning an art and a skill that they may not learn in school these days.”

Albrecht teaches cursive through an artistic lens, encouraging students to express themselves in how they write.

“Remember it's just like the way we wear our hair the way we wear our clothes,” he told the class. “You want your style. Nobody's cursive should really look the same. This isn't like math, two plus two equals four. This is an art.”

Fittingly, the cursive writing contest commences on Jan. 23. John Hancock Day.

“You know, those kinds of slogans, you know, I want your John Hancock, kids aren't familiar with that, no," he said.

Albrecht believes that can change. To make sure a lesson from the past — has a future.