By Spencer Barnett –
The school wants students to become curious and learn.
Teachers love it when students challenge themselves.
The goal of education is to create an atmosphere of higher-level thinking.
The game of chess is growing in popularity throughout the student body at Penn Manor High School lately. Students from different cliques are getting together to challenge and compete against each other during lunches and any free time students can find to play.
Librarian aide, Pam Yarnell, has seen first hand the growing popularity of chess since the library is one of the sites at which students congregate to play.
“There has been a significant increase of people coming in,” said Yarnell, “it’s becoming very popular.”
In the morning, Yarnell sees around six students playing chess. On homeroom days, there can be as many as 15.
“It was really popular last year, but it took about two months for it to come back this year,” Yarnell said, “I noticed it becoming popular around November.”
Chess has become so popular that the librarian had to buy two new sets because six wasn’t enough.
The people she sees playing are mainly the students with college classes, but she also notices other kids joining as well.
“I don’t think chess players are anyone specific, it’s very diverse,” she added.
While chess is an educational game that involves lots of thought, one teacher explained the effects of chess played at school.
“I think chess is both positively and negatively impacting the students of Penn Manor,” said Erick Dutchess, a science teacher at Penn Manor.
“They get to practice their problem solving and analytical skills as well as thinking and planning for the future,” he said and then, with a little tongue-in-cheek humor, added, “the downside to this is that they are wasting school time to play chess, as opposed to playing it outside of school and using valuable school time to learn factoids and rote memorize things.”
Jesse Graham, a senior class officer at Penn Manor, is one of the pioneers of chess in school.
“It started out with the four of us, Me, Josh, Eric and Jere,” Graham said, “we started playing early November.”
During this time, students began to take interest in it and wanted to play.
“When someone was not in school, other kids would come over and join in,” Graham said, “after that it just kinda of blew up and more and more people joined.”
Graham continued to explain the diversity of the players.
“I see a lot of people I never thought would be into chess,” Graham said, “it’s pretty cool.”
Harry Manning has been playing chess for 13 years and just recently started playing in school.
“It’s like a war,” said Manning with a smile on his face, describing the way he plays chess, “and I’m the general leading my forces into battle.”
When Manning isn’t playing in the library during homeroom, he said he plays on the computer.
Mark Curtin, a senior at Penn Manor, recently picked up on this new fad.
“It’s an interesting way to challenge your mind,” said Curtin quoting a popular movie line, “it’s mind bottling.”
Curtain has been playing for a month and continues to play every day.
He explained that it is a positive influence on the students.
“It is a good use of free time and it gives me a break from my schoolwork,” Curtin said.
The rush of getting your opponent into check-mate and the skill it takes to be good is what is driving kids to continue to play and get better. With chess seeming to be at the peak of its popularity, who knows how much bigger it will become.