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Make Your Move - Southside Charter Chess Club

In December 2005, Anton Ninno joined the Southside Academy Charter School staff and quickly introduced a new activity for students - a weekly chess club. Since its formation in January 2006, this after-school program has become one of the most popular activities at Southside. 

Chess club is composed of 40 students, ranging from second to eighth grade. The club has not only grown in popularity with Southside students, but also with parents, administrators, and local community members. Southside students hold friendly chess matches with teachers, principals, parents, police officers, firefighters, and city hall staffers.

“I like the way it makes me think. I can see the immediate consequences of my actions. I also like tournaments. You get to meet kids from other schools and make friends,” said Nate Parkhurst, seventh-grade student.
Over the last nine years, Southside has hosted two scholastic chess tournaments per school year. They host the Syracuse K-12 Chess Championship in the fall and the Onondaga County K-12 Chess Championship in the spring. Last March, 115 students from across Central New York competed in the event, with some coming from as far away as Buffalo, New York.

The club’s popularity continues to grow, and Mr. Ninno is very proud of their accomplishments. A trophy case in the school foyer holds over 80 trophies won by Southside’s chess team. Additionally, students keep the trophies won for their individual tournament scores, which serves as a huge incentive to practice beyond weekly club meetings.

“I am thrilled to see students so excited about chess,” said Ninno. “It is a challenging game that can help them excel. Beyond the well-known fact that learning chess builds mental discipline and critical thinking skills, playing chess every week also teaches valuable social skills and develops emotional resilience. Those effects last a lifetime.”‚Äč