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Tanay Warerkar Assemblyman Joe Lentol, Marley Kaplan, President and CEO of Chess-in-the-Schools and Deputy BP Diana Reyna pose with the chess champs Tanay Warerkar

Checkmate: Summer Chess Champs Crowned at M.S. 126

The future chess masters of the world were crowned Friday at the John Ericsson Middle School on Leonard Street.

The ceremony, held in the school’s cafeteria, marked the conclusion of the annual Summer Chess Camp organized by the Chess-in-the-Schools, a non-profit organization that uses the game to improve academic performance and build self-confidence among students in public schools throughout the city.

Twenty students were selected as winners in each category. Fifteen received medals, and the top five in each category received small trophies embossed in blue and gold. About sixty medals and trophies, in all, were handed out to students in three different categories based on skill level. The awards handed out Friday were for the Summer Chess Challenge held each year at M.S. 126

Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna and Assemblyman Joe Lentol were present to hand out the awards to the participants.

“We want to support programs like this that make sure that school becomes fun and transforms the lives of children,” said Reyna. “I wish I had chess growing up. It makes you think quick and swift. And this is a great way to make math fun.”

Lentol recognized how the event’s success was also reflective of the changes M.S. 126 has undergone since Principal Marcos Bausch joined the school in 2011, improving its fortunes and preventing its shutdown.

“Many of you have excelled at school because of the leadership skills provided at a camp like this,” Lentol told the students. “We’ve had such a turnaround here, and that’s all because of your willingness.”

Chess-in-the-Schools was created in 1985, and has since served over 400,000 students in Title I schools throughout the city. In addition to summer programs, the organization works with more than 50 City schools in which chess is part of the curriculum. It also runs after-school programs, more than 30 chess tournaments throughout the year, and a college-bound program, that provides academic assistance, counseling and chess-training to students hoping to enroll in college.

“We’ve experienced a one hundred percent success rate with students who choose to stick with our programs,” said Marley Kaplan, the President and CEO of Chess-in-the-Schools. “This is not just about Chess but about developing non-cognitive skills.”

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