On April 26th, the western New York school chess world finally witnessed the long anticipated match of the year. In the second round of the Rochester Area Interscholastic Chess playoffs, the defending champion Wilson Wildcats (12-0) faced off against the Brighton Barons, also undefeated in twelve matches. Although the two powerhouses did not meet head to head in the States (March 1 and 2), Wilson narrowly outpointed the Barons, finishing second overall.
(For more on the Wildcat’s 2013 championship, see RCSD team wins again as well as Wilson chess completes season in spectacular fashion at the Super Nationals )
This year Wilson would lose to Brighton in a tense 25 -15 match, and ultimately place second at 3 -1 in the tournament. Nonetheless, the Wildcats have much to be proud of, especially their showing at the States. Given that they are only 9th graders, there will be more victories to come.
Moreover, chess is thriving throughout the city. SOTA was 8-3 during the regular season. All City was 6-5, and won two playoff matches. For more on All City’s impressive chess program that routinely attracts thirty plus members, see Wilson Wildcats open title defense with 5 straight wins. SOTA stands at 5-3; All City is 4-5; East 2-3
Beyond the trophies and championships, there is much more to the Wilson chess community. Basically, this is a story of six families living in Rochester (mostly in the South Wedge) who, although they had more options than many, chose to send their children to city schools.
In the core group—Patrick Phillips, Webster Kehoe, Sam Cherin, Connor Wagner, Theo Chapman, Peter Carter—most have known each other since at least Kindergarten—Webb and Pat became friends in preschool. Theo moved to Rochester in 3rd grade. All attended Genesee Community Charter School except Patrick who was a few years at James P.B. Duffy (School12) and then at Cobblestone. From the beginning, a love of chess was one of their primary bonds.
When the boys reached sixth grade, they jointly decided to enroll in the Wilson Foundation Academy. From there, the group has progressed to the Wilson Commencement Academy where all hope to participate in the Wilson International Baccalaureate program.
Collectively, these families fundamentally believe in the RCSD, and do their best to advocate for all its students, not just their own. For example, they lobbied to change the District’s policy regarding the number of periods in a day, and also helped gain more advanced math classes.
Beginning at GCCS, group members have been Family Association Presidents, School Committee heads, Event Chairs, Secretaries, Treasurers, volunteers, Parent Board Representatives, PTO/PTSA Presidents and Co-Presidents, and active in School-based planning. Given their values, I fully anticipate they will stay involved long after their children have graduated.
As eloquently said by Kate Kressmann-Kehoe:
At different times every single one of the families were ready to leave, but were encouraged to stay by other parents who weren’t in that same place at the same time.