Nan Austin

April 30, 2014

Bret Harte Elementary’s Chess Club topples kings in state competition; heading to nationals

The Bret Harte Chess Club’s young misses and masters brought home some impressive trophies from state competition last weekend in Santa Clara, but the best news is they will be going to nationals in Dallas. Also, Enochs High teens’ one-minute film is up for a state mental health award.

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The Bret Harte Chess Club’s young misses and masters brought home some impressive trophies from state competition last weekend in Santa Clara, but the best news is they will be going to nationals in Dallas.

The tickets are bought, the rooms are booked, and the Success Chess Federation will chip in for entry fees, said Bret Harte Elementary teacher and chess coach Kevin Cripe.

Modesto City Schools will not sanction the trip, said Bret Hart Principal Steven Hurst, but Cripe can use at-will days off and the parents can take their children on their own.

Eleven chess players and nine chaperones, including a family member for every child, are heading to Texas on May 9-11, Cripe said. He hopes to find enough donations for one or two more students who did especially well at the state contest.

The team took first place among fourth- through sixth-grade intermediate players, Cripe said. Fifth-grader Alandra Raya came in fifth in the section.

Wednesday, Alandra battled assistant chess coach Tom Crain to a draw during after-school practice as the team clustered around them.

An insect buzzing lazily through the heated competition broke the tension. “Fly to E-5. That’s check,” Crain said drolly as the team erupted in giggles.

Perceptive video

Grab a tissue and watch “Perception” to get a fresh appreciation of keen teen insight.

Written and produced by Enochs High School’s Caleb Meyer, Jacob McNeilly, Justin Benziger, Brandon Wilcox, Mariah Davis and Megan Johnson, the film shows how young people can counter a friend’s thoughts of suicide by taking a moment to say something nice.

The video starts with a teenager clicking on a television, where a video of herself looks back and says, “Nobody cares about you, you’re worthless. You have nothing to look forward to, and no one would even notice if you were gone.”

She stares glassily into the darkening room, letting the remote fall from her hand.

Then friendly faces appear on the screen, saying encouraging things. The girl smiles, a thousand words communicated in the relief on her face. “One voice can help prevent suicide” comes forward on the screen.

Filmmaker Meyer said he took inspiration from friends who have struggled through dark times.

“I have had friends who have struggled with thoughts of suicide, and was glad to be able help raise awareness of such an important topic through this public service announcement,” he told contest organizers.

Find it and other contenders in the contest at www.directingchange.org.

For more on the video and competition, see a story in Friday’s Local News section.

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