Fall River Elementary School Launches New Chess Club

students at Fall River compete in championship chess match

This school year, Fall River Elementary introduced a chess club to their extracurricular offerings With a passion for the game and a desire to help create a space where students can thrive, Principal Quinn O’Keefe established the club to help students develop their critical thinking and strategic planning skills.

“When I was a teacher, I always observed an interest in chess among my fifth-grade students,” explains O’Keefe. “I had thought about creating a chess club at Fall River for quite some time, and this year, I finally made it happen. It’s about giving kids a space to build confidence and find success beyond sports.”

The club welcomed students from the third through fifth grades and took place on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. Interest in the chess club was overwhelming, 55 students applied to fill the 20 slots available. Because of the high demand, the school expanded the space available.

In addition to instilling confidence, O’Keefe highlighted the academic and social benefits of chess. He believes the game serves as a powerful tool for honing focus, perseverance, and critical thinking skills, all of which are transferable to academic success. “One of the key lessons of chess is the importance of focus,” stated O’Keefe. “It’s a direct analogy for the effort required to succeed in academics.”

During the club’s first year, many memorable moments stand out; however, there is one specifically in the championship match that left a lasting impression on O’Keefe. “Dylan Kupper, a third-grader, faced off against Max Romero, a fifth-grader, in a thrilling championship match,” recounted O’Keefe. “Despite the odds, Dylan held his ground, forcing a draw in the first game through sheer strategy. It was a testament to the transformative power of dedication and effort.”

Students took on various roles in supporting each other during the tournament and creating a welcoming environment. Some focused on strategy, planning their moves carefully, while others encouraged their teammates during matches. “I love being part of the chess club because it’s all about having fun and enjoying a great activity,” shared Dylan. Max echoed Dylan’s sentiments, stating, “For me, chess is not just a game, it’s a chance to think strategically. Being able to participate in six matches to reach the championship was tough, but it’s all really exciting.”

St. Vrain Valley Schools