L-R: Vielka McFarlane CEO Celerity Education Group; Camille Carson Director of After-school Programs; Damen Fletcher, Exec Director/Founder Train of Thought.
LOS ANGELES, CA (June 2013) – Train of Thought, a chess education nonprofit focused on teaching the game of chess to children and youth throughout Los Angeles, CA and the Celerity Education Group’s (CEG) Family of Charter Schools hosted their 1st Annual Chess Festival and Tournament at the Celerity Nascent Elementary Campus on Jefferson Blvd near Crenshaw.
“You are now ‘chess parents’”, proclaimed Damen Fletcher Executive Director/Founder of Train of Thought at the close of a long afternoon of chess play by 3rd through 8th students from the nine Celerity Schools.
1st Place Winner Emily Bonilla with Family. 2nd Place Winner Christian David with family.
There were 1st through 5th place certificates handed out, as well as medals for 1st through 3rd place winners. Chess Sets were also given away. Every grade from 3rd to 6th carried its on division of winners. 7th and 8th graders were a combined division. There was even a 2nd place 4-way tie for 3rd Grade sending Celerity Exa’s precocious and gifted chess player, Christian David (the only 2nd Grader ready to participate) home with a medal. There was also a 2nd Place 5-way tie for 4th Grade.
As students registered and rushed off to rooms for their individual matches Kinder – 2nd Grade students who did not participate in this year’s tournament played practice games and solved puzzles. All the while competitive play swirled in and out of the rooms around them.
An arts and crafts table outside played host to younger siblings who made hats with chess pieces (king, queen, bishop, rook, knight and pawn). These kings, queens and knights ran past parents who were seated impatiently outside of classrooms as their son or daughter played their rounds. It was a scene from the movie Searching For Bobby Fischer.
During one round a parent could be heard, “how come she gets to go in…is she a parent? “No she’s a photographer”, whispered the moderator.
The road to this day began last November when Fletcher was tapped by CEG President and CEO, Vielka McFarlane to teach the principals of the 9 Celerity Schools the game of chess.
Like 50 countries around the world McFarlane knows the benefits of the game. Chess improves cognitive development, rational thinking and reasoning. Measurable improvements have also been reported in math and reading scores.
She first asked Fletcher to design a program to teach After-School staff on every site (9 Schools-13 campuses) the game and how to teach the game. From February to April Celerity after-school teachers learned to play and teach chess (95% of them had never played or been taught the game).
Next, Celerity after-school teachers began teaching chess to students in K-8th grades. Since the first day of instruction, April 15th the students digested pieces, how they move, game play and strategy in preparation for this big day.
And what a day it turned out to be! There were 70 tournament participants, as well as, parents, siblings, staff and friends crowding and crouching in doorways and lining the halls in anticipation of their chess player’s outcome. There were tears and cheers all afternoon long.
For interviews and inquiries please contact Danna Kiel 323 633 1554
For more information please visit www.chesstrain.org or follow Train of Thought at www.facebook.comchesstrain and www.twitter.com/chesstrain.