Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Brooklyn Castle 
Brooklyn Castle (directed by Katie Dellamaggiore) is a nice, feel-good documentary about the value of extracurricular programs in our public schools.
The origin of the chess program at Brooklyn's I.S. 318 Middle School was something of a lark. Some 15 years ago, teachers noticed that there'd be an interest in organizing a chess club at their school. When they took the students from the chess club to a tournament, they found to their amazement that their students _won_, trouncing their opposition. Then the teachers found that their kids could qualify for a "National" tournament. They applied for the funding arguing that it'd be a good experience for the kids (remember this is an inner city school) to have the experience of going to another part of the country to compete in the tournament. They got the funding and when their students arrived at the tournament THEY WON AGAIN.
Thus began a veritable "Chess Dynasty," where this lowly Brooklyn school won "Nationals" 10 years in a row and where, smiling from ear to ear, the Principal recalling the story "the geeks became the jocks" of the school.
Brooklyn Castle follows then I.S. 318's 6th-8th grade chess teams through (I believe) its 2009-2010 season. And there is something very endearing watching a team of African-American and Latino kids and even one white kid with ADHD from the inner-city just _wiping the tables clean_ of their opponents in "Regionals", "State" and "Nationals" in ... Chess ;-). One of the 8th grade girls even won a 4 year full ride scholarship when she reaches college age to the University of Texas in Austin for winning the girls' 8th grade National Chess Championship.
Fascinating film ;-).
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