by Jana Thomas, Scholastic Instructor
Last school year, Columbia Elementary welcomed the Saint Louis Chess Club into their school by way of a single instructor, who is referred to with endearment as Queen Thomas. With an everyday assignment of sharing chess with grades 1-6, Queen Thomas and the school began their journey together.
Columbia's Principal Payton established a set room for chess and Columbia's teachers began making their way on their assigned day and time to the chess room. Like all change, the introduction of chess to the students and school culture was difficult. However, Columbia's staff and Queen Thomas were committed to the belief that chess is, and would be, an engaging and enriching addition to the students' learning.
Last year, all grades began learning the fundamentals of chess and had fun doing so through innovative games and even dance. To close the school year, select students celebrated their new-found love of chess and the school year's end with an exciting and educational trip to the Chess Club, as well as the World Chess Hall of Fame. This followed Columbia's acceptance of a challenge to a chess tournament with Dunbar Elementary, which was a learning experience of friendly competition that the children enjoyed.
This year, Columbia has continued to advance in their knowledge of chess. In fact, they have began preparing early for competition with their own in-school tournaments. Some students have even begun participating in the Chess Club’s monthly Scholastic Tournaments. With the growing excitement, Columbia added chess to after school programming, which allowed even more students to join this journey.
Chess has become a fixture at Columbia and continues to gain more and more interest. Students have begun sharing their knowledge of chess with their classmates, teachers, parents, and with their friends and families. This is truly the Chess Club's mission manifesting as it should.