Wednesday, November 21, 2012

'Brooklyn Castle' Documentary Highlights Chess Team

This is a great story – and looks like a great film:

The powerful new documentary “Brooklyn Castle,” about the renowned chess team of IS 318 in Williamsburg, shows how dedicated teachers can enrich the lives of disadvantaged students. It has important lessons for education reformers.

Over the past decade, the IS 318 team has won more chess championships than any school in the country. Earlier this year — after filmmakers finished production — it became the first middle school to win the national high-school championship, beating out dozens of elite public and private schools.

The film chronicles five students and the challenges they face: Justus Williams is “the LeBron James of chess;” Alexis Paredes is an immigrant striver; Patrick Johnson has ADHD and uses chess to improve his concentration and self-confidence; Rochelle Ballantyne endeavors to be the first female African-American chess master; Pobo Efekoro is the team's emotional leader. (I met the students at a Rooftop Films screening: They’re as impressive off- as on- camera.)

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