Students trickled into Mrs. Jaime Coon’s classroom at the end of the school day, smiling and excited.
“I really like chess,” said seventh-grader Joshua Noble. “I like to play against multiple people.”
His classmate Aaron Zimitrovich agreed.
“I like the strategy of it and the thinking you have to do,” he said.
This year there’s a new chess club at Clinton Junior High, sponsored by art teacher Jaime Coon.
“Last year my son was in sixth grade and competed in the district chess tournament in April,” she said. “There were so many kids in sixth grade at the tournament and I wanted to provide an opportunity for them to continue.”
Chess is a newly sanctioned activity by the Mississippi High School Activities Association, so Coon wants to prepare her students for competition. She attended a workshop at the University of Mississippi over the summer where she learned more about the game and how to run a chess program.
Although MHSAA will not be coordinating its own chess formal leagues or state championships this school year, there are other opportunities for CJHS students to experience competition. The Mississippi Scholastic Chess Association offers a range of scholastic tournaments throughout the year, including statewide team and individual championships.
Coon said this organization offered a lot of help and advice as she was starting the new club at CJHS.
“We’re keeping an ear out for their competition schedule and as a group we will travel to one,” she said.
In the meantime, she’s working with students after school and getting them in the habit of noting their moves as they play.
“We always write down what moves we make,” said seventh-grader Jonah Godbold, pointing to his chess notebook. “We’ve watched videos and studied different defenses … we play each other and study the moves we made.”
Coon said up to 12 students can play at a time since she only has six boards. Students are asked to bring $1 each to play — money she’s saving to purchase time clocks and additional boards.
For more information, contact Coon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Clinton Junior High students Pyper Finch and Griffin Threatt practice playing chess after school. They are part of the new chess club at CJHS.