Almost two years ago, an initiative was launched to chronicle the success of Brooklyn’s I.S. 318 into a movie project. Kati and Nelson Dellamaggiore started a $4,000 fundraising campaign which ultimately netted $10,536. A teaser video was released about the project. Outreach Director Kali Holloway told The Chess Drum that the project is nearing completion and another fundraising campaign is underway for $20,000.
Following is a statement released by the producers:
Brooklyn Castle is a documentary that is as much about the ability for public schools to do great things when they have the resources as it is about these five young lives. In 2003, I.S. 318 was listed as a “school in need of improvement.” Today, it’s one of New York City’s best, and its students matriculate to some of the most prestigious high schools in the country. The chess program has led the school to create a vibrant and varied afterschool program which John Galvin, assistant principal, credits with creating the “culture of success” at the school. But what we learned in making this documentary is that even with a staff that cares and students that work hard, a lack of resources can undermine even the most hard-won achievements. Budget cuts now seriously threaten the very existence of I.S. 318’s afterschool programs. The demise of these incredibly necessary programs is certain to have serious consequences for both I.S. 318 and its students.
The video features many of the players who have made a mark at I.S. 318 making it one of the top chess programs in the country. While the teaser video shows Justus Williams with dreadlocks, the Bronx native has since sheared his locks, become a Master and is approaching 2300. James Black, Jr. has also become a Master. Players like Darrian Robinson and Rochelle Ballantyne have long left the program, but their success is noted. While both are now eyeing prospective colleges to attend, each wants to become the first Black woman to earn the Master’s title.