The Brownsville Herald
There were cheerleaders, pizza and the excited yells of players — and that was only elementary-level chess practice at the school district tournament that welcomed 806 players on Saturday to Paredes Elementary.
Over the years, BISD has presented its successful chess program as a tool to reach students in an area with high poverty levels and low educational attainment levels, providing funding for a district chess program since at least 2004.
“Our youth have a lot more potential than what people think Brownsville is,” Patty Vela said on Saturday as she watched her son practice.
The event was the fourth out of 10 being hosted by the school district this year.
BISD University Interscholastic League and chess coordinator Jaime Rojas said there were six sections for skill levels based on a mix of points and grade level, which ranged from K-12.
Vela’s son, Matthew Cohen, is a 15-year-old sophomore on the Porter High School chess team.
She said he asked to play when he was in second grade and has been dedicated since. The game teaches youth more than game strategy, his mother said; it teaches them critical thinking for everyday life.
“It’s been pretty amazing,” she said of watching her son grow up and progress in his chess skill. “It don’t know how to describe it. … I’ve never told him ‘no’ when it comes to trying something new.”
Vela laughs when she recalls how the two began learning chess basics together, but today her son surpasses her in skill.
Rojas said as coordinator he sees children become passionate about chess and through that gain focus. Passion fuels learning, he said.
“Chess is one of those few games where you can be sitting completely still and your heart will be racing,” he said.
There’s even a motto that goes along with the game, he said.
“You either win or learn,” Rojas said. “There are no losers.”
Full story here.
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