Students at a Virginia "private" high school have challenged President Obama and White House staff to play chess with them, in a bid to win funding for their continuing education. Teacher Lisa Suhay says chess has transformed 40 underachieving students at Ryan Academy High School — a small private school that is “little more than four walls” and catering for blue-collar families — “from victims into victors — at no cost to the taxpayer or school”.
Her students solicited free chess sets and learning materials from the Hip-Hop Chess Federation and other sources. Hip-Hop Chess — which stresses unity, life strategy, and non-violence in the classroom — is also used successfully by John J O’Connell High School in San Francisco. Ms Suhay , who earns $16,000 a year before tax, writes: “Every one of my students learned to play chess this year. What's more, they all began to think more clearly and often, and think before they acted. Achievers blossomed and borderline drop-outs are now making the honor roll and are seriously thinking about college and jobs that do not involve fries or result in an orange jumpsuit and leg irons.”
Now, because of the ailing economy, many students face expulsion for not being able to pay their tuition. Others have been accepted to college but have failed to find funding.
“But, thanks to chess, these children have become critical thinkers. Determined, they held a mini ‘war room’ discussion. They decided that their best strategy to get out of this corner, and help others do the same, was to promote awareness, raise money, and to ‘go for the king’.” Hence, the White House challenge. “Last week Rahm Emanuel received a long cardboard tube packed with their essays, letters of request, and one precious possession: a scholastic tournament set with ‘Mr. Prez’ scrawled in Sharpie marker on the underside of a king.”
If it comes off, money raised for the benefit games will go to a new fund for chess scholars — who qualify by winning in an HHCF-sponsored tournament at either school. Ms Suhay sees this daring bid as giving the new White House administration “the opportunity to help create change without an act of Congress”. ~ Yahoo/Christian Science Monitor, Mar 20