We started the Chess program at Hamilton four years ago to build opportunity for Hamilton students.
At Hamilton, especially 3 or 4 years ago, we didn’t see a lot of engagement, around education, sports, competition…and much of that was because opportunity was so limited. Whether at school, or away from school around the county, kids need engagement and challenge…where they learn sportsmanship, effort and reward…where they have fun, and build grit. Hamilton kids are every bit as capable as kids across the county, they just need opportunity. And that’s where chess comes in…determination, commitment, learning to win and learning from losing, it’s a great game that teaches life-long skills.
In year one we offered 4th and 5th grades a chess club at lunch-time, starting from scratch learning about teaching chess from other programs, and using a lot of trial and error as our guide. Eventually we found a chess room, dressed it up, and started playing chess.
We had a bit of a following, so we added 3rd grade and middle school the next year... and the following year we included 2nd grade, added after school chess and began competitive chess, hiring a Chess coach, Women’s Grand Master, Carla Heredia…Coach Carla. The program was thriving with about 140 participants each week and well over 30 kids participating in tournaments. We attended tournaments in Berkeley, San Rafael at Mark Day School, and hosted a tournament at the Hamilton Gym in December 2019. We still have a notion of making Hamilton School a hub for tournament chess in the county and beyond.
After the pandemic struck, we took the Chess program online. Carla coaches and instructs a core dedicated group of kids via Zoom and an online platform. We can't wait to get back on campus to resume the full chess program in September if not before!