Despite the restrictions imposed on schools by the current Covid-19 crisis, scholars at Mitchell Elementary continue their pursuit of chess excellence at home via various online sites like chesskid.com, LiChess, and Chess.com. “We have small group lessons as well,” relates chess teacher and program sponsor Jason Bui. “And I’ve also dropped off puzzle books for a number of the kids.
The chess program at Mitchell has been both a source of enrichment and part of the broader academic menu there for several years. Under the leadership of Bui, many scholars are introduced to the challenges of this ancient, universal board game during their activity periods.
For those special students who come to the cafeteria after school several times a week for additional training and prepare to compete at city, state, and national tournaments, achievements have been outstanding. Either competing for titles as Mitchell Elementary or as members of Bui’s elite community chess club, the Minor Threats, they have honored their school and community with their hard work and dedication.
Before the crisis restriction, eight Mitchell students and one alumnus, Derrick Moore, participated in the PA State Scholastic Chess Championships in Gettysburg on March 7th and 8th. “The kids did great, on and off the tables,” advised their dedicated coach Bui. “They won 4 team trophies, 2 individual trophies, and 1 medal. Our middle schoolers, Brooklyne Spraggins, Fanta Dukuly, Ava Moore, and Mabinti Mansaray are the 4th best in the State, with Naki and Mabinti winning individual trophies ( 4 out of 5 points each) and Brooklyne earning a medal.
“Weekend chess tournaments like this are exhausting,” added Bui. The kids play hours of chess over the weekend, competing with kids from all over PA.” Sadly, he related, this is the time of the year where students would normally be taking trips to other major contests – which is why the Gettysburg achievements are so memorable.
Studies around the world attest that chess playing and competition help young people socially, psychologically, and academically. Regular chess play promotes analytical and planning skills, self-discipline, and sustained concentration and significantly improves reading and mathematics grades.
The concentration on chess at Mitchell may have been one of the elements that contributed to its designation as a High Academic Growth Schools on both the 2019 and 2020 GreatPhillySchools Ratings Profiles.
For more information on the special activities at Mitchell, visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/S-Weir-Mitchell-School/442322975812798
The education information about chess was taken from https://gardinerchess.com.au/educational-benefits-of-chess/
Jason Bui is a teacher at Mitchell, founder and head coach of the Minor Threats Chess Club and vice president of the Philadelphia Chess Society