Englewood students win big at National Junior High School Chess Championship

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Six students from Earle STEM Elementary School in Englewood brought home several trophies from the national junior high school chess championship.

The students said the life lessons learned from participating in the tournament were just as gratifying as the hardware.

"Give them a chance to shine and they will shine," Earle STEM Elementary math teacher Joseph Ocol said of his students.

"I wanted to learn how to play chess because I thought it was pretty cool and I didn't see a lot of girls playing it," 6th grader Christina Williams said. "I really wanted to learn because I thought it would help me with my mind and expand my mindset and the way that I think and help me with my everyday problems."

Ocol wants his students to realize that chess is more than just a game.

"So each one of us can be a pawn but in the end we have a chance of becoming the most powerful person in the world, the queen," he said. "I relate chess with life. This is not just about a game winning; it is about life because I want to improve their lives."

Students are using that critical thinking to win in the game and at life.

"It takes me to remember past experiences of a game see what I do there and if it worked out," 5th grader Taahir Levi said.

Principal Cederrall Petties hopes the students' success will inspire others and help them become leaders in the community.

"They are leaders within themselves. What we here at Earle strive to do is create multiple leaders so they can impact society in a positive way," Petties said.

And when you ask students why they think more students should take on the game of chess...

"They should try doing what I love to do because I think it would give them better critical thinking skills and more experiences on life," Levi said.

Very wise at a young age.

Now to the wins! They were the only CPS students to take part and took home 4th place as a team.

They brought home individual 8th and 9th place trophies out of 320 kids.
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