Disney to make "I Choose to Stay" into a movie!

"Walt Disney Co. will reteam with the filmmakers behind its 2,605-screen release "Miracle" on another inspirational story. It's the memoir "I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City." Director Gavin O'Connor and his producing partner, brother Greg O'Connor, will produce the picture through their Solaris Entertainment banner with partner Tim Chambers." (Yahoo! News, 5 February 2004)

Due to the immense success of the best-selling book, "I Choose to Stay," Disney has decided to immortalize the story in the form of a movie. The book rose to as high as #5 on the Amazon Best Seller's listů up from #55,000! Disney used this to gauge the interest in a story and in November of 2003, they decided to launch the project. Shooting of the movie will be in Philadelphia and is planned to start during the summer months.

Salome Thomas-EL, the principle figure of the book, has gained nationwide attention because of his work at promoting chess excellence Roberts Vaux Middle School and at Reynolds Elementary. His approach to coaching has inspired hundreds of students who have gone on to do great things in higher education and in the professional world.

The book reveals the challenges, trials and tribulations often facing Black youth in the "inner-city."  Vaux is a school beset with a number of social problems, but within the walls of the building was a shining light which gave the school pride and made it the subject of many success stories in the media.

The Vaux chess team was the subject of documentary called "The Mighty Pawns." The school as won eight National Championships, seven of those during a fascinating run in the late 70s and early 80s. They added another title in 1997, an event prominently described in the book.

Roberts Vaux Chess Team - 1981

Roberts Vaux Chess Team - 1981

(Front row, L-R) Jamal McDaniels, Jeffery Moore, Daniel Lewis, Alvin Green, Debbie Leftwich, Kevin Jiles, Michael Allen, Delbert Rhodes, Marvin Edmonds, Terrance Heath. (Back row, L-R) Dr. Bernard Kehrer (Associate Superintendent), Frank Devine (Principal), Jeffrey Chesin (Coach) and Dr. Michael Marcase (Superintendent). Photo courtesy of Johnson Publishing Company.

Other Sources:

"The Bad Bishops: Philadelphia Teen-agers win Fifth Straight Chess Title,"
Ebony, October 1981, 103-106.

Roberts Vaux Chess Team website (1997-98)

The Chess Drum, "Former Vaux Students Making the Grade,"  22 July 2003.

The Chess Drum, "Book on Chess Triumph has "Staying Power," 14 June 2003.

The Chess Drum, "I Choose to Stay" now available at bookstores!!"  (7 March 2003)

The Chess Drum, "Chess Coach unveils book about chess triumph at Philly's Vaux!" (26 January 2003)

The Chess Drum, "A Principled Chess Coach says, "I Choose to Stay" (27 February 2002).

Posted by The Chess Drum: 6 February 2004