Five Clark Day Treatment students represented themselves and the district well last week competing against more than 500 students in the Susan Polger World Open Chess Tournament in Chicago.
The duo of Samantha Stewart and Jessica Burton claimed first place in the girls grades 9-12 division, while the team of Jason Christian, Lamont Wilkerson and Patrick Lee finished second in the boys grades 9-12 division of the seven-round format tournament.
Individually, Stewart finished third and Burton fourth overall in the girls division, while Christian finished 15th in the boys division.
This was the biggest tournament the students had played in and Day Treatment Principal Greg Hollon said the students were pleased with their performances.
“They were very happy with how they finished,” Hollon said. “They were so excited and they still are.”
Hollon said the trip was about more than just competing in the tournament for the students.
“Outside of one student, none of them had ever been to a city like Chicago. We were able to take them out and show them the city and let them experience Chicago, as well as participating and doing well in the tournament, and all four absolutely loved Chicago and had a great time. This really is a life altering experience for them,” Hollon said. “Seeing the excitement in their eyes and on their faces. That’s what it is all about; the students. Our mission at the center is to enrich the lives of our students and make them better students and more productive citizens, and trips like this really help in doing that.”
Hollon introduced chess into the Day Treatment Center when he became principal at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, and it has caught on with the students. Performances like those in Chicago have only heightened the interest, Hollon said.
“I’ve had several other students hit me up last week and this week asking when we were going to another tournament, and if they could be a part of that. The success of these students has gotten others excited about chess. I hope that this becomes a tradition and I would like to see Clark Day Treatment become known as a chess magnet,” Hollon said. “Chess is more than a game. The mental capacity, critical thinking and tactical strategy involved in playing chess all go back into their lives and back into their school work. The students who get involved in it, their behavior changes dramatically and it’s just a pleasure to watch them grow.”
Hollon said he was looking for other tournaments for students to enter to be able to get more of them involved in competition chess.
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.