Early risers growing wiser with chess

November 29, 2006

Early risers growing wiser with chess

The Sherwood Gazette

Looking for a new ploy to get the kids out of bed in the morning?

Parents at Sherwood’s elementary schools have found one. Chess.

On any given Friday at 7 a.m. in the Hopkins Elementary library, around 40 students gather around tables and set up cloth chess boards on the floor. A parent volunteer gives a brief lesson on technique, and then the games begin.

“Chess is very helpful with math skills and critical thinking,” according to Kevin Henry, who serves on Sherwood’s school board and volunteers with Hopkins’ chess club. “It also teaches patience.”

With 42 members and growing, Hopkins chess club continues to grow, but it isn’t alone. Each of the district’s schools has a club, and at the high school level, students are eligible to play in state and regional tournaments.

Hopkins’ chess club starts in October each school year, and meets through spring break. Along with Henry, parent volunteer Penny Harper, teacher Paul Stecher and high school student Michael Riches also help the group.

“My philosophy is, if they want to show up and learn, we’ll teach them,” Henry said. “We are all here to learn, and to teach each other.”

Next January, 10 students from Hopkins’ chess club will be chosen to play in the second annual Jack Weeks Cup Chess Tournament against teams from Middleton and Archer Glen Elementary schools. The following week, the team will participate in the Regional Chess for Success tournament against elementary schools from Tigard, Tualatin, and Sherwood for the opportunity to compete in the State Tournament.

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