Varnett School SE Team Wins First Place at Chess Tournament

ABOVE: From left to right: Joel Eugene Onyejiaka, Isaiah Johnson, Jyrese Nixon, Darren Nixon, Janae Jerome, Detrevion Jerome, Curtis Johnson, Patrick Morrison III and Inaya Mercer (Photos by Mr. Burton and Mr. Peter McConnell Varnett’s communications director)

The Varnett Public School’s Southeast chess club recently finished in first place in the middle school division at the scholastic tournament that was held at KIPP Spirit Academy on September 29th.

Sporting shirts that proudly displayed Varnett with a chess board symbol underneath, the participants also won individual awards.

Darren Nixon won all five of his matches, placing first, while DeTrevion Jerome finished in second place with four wins and one draw. Janae Jerome and Joel Eugene Onyejiaka both finished in sixth place. All won trophies for their efforts.

“Chess is life! It’s challenging but fun! I still can’t believe Varnett Southeast won first place,” Darren said. 

The team’s first-place finish came among 25 schools composed of 170 students. The team trophy was presented to Dr. Margaret Stroud, superintendent of The Varnett Public School, on October 2nd. 

“The KIPP Spirit Academy tournament was our first scholastic chess tournament of the year,” said Mr. Richard Burton, the team coach. “Winning first place against some of the established perennial chess schools, such as St. Peter The Apostle, Kipp Academy and River Oaks Baptist School, means that we’re opening eyes in the chess circles and establishing The Varnett School as a school to be reckoned with.”

From left, Dr. Margaret Stroud, superintendent of The Varnett Public School; Ms. Jessika Hearne, director of the Southeast Campus and Mr. Lonnie Reynolds, Varnett’s athletic director.

Varnett plans to participate in the state tournament in March, that will be held in Houston, as well as in the national chess championships that will be held in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas, in April.

“Our kids are working very hard to bring back trophies and solidify The Varnett Public School as a scholastic powerhouse in the game of chess,” said Burton.

The team members are:

  • Patrick Morrison, 3rd grade
  • Jyrese Nixon, 3rd grade
  • Isaiah Johnson, 4th grade
  • Inaya Mercer, 5th grade
  • Curtis Johnson, 5th grade
  • Janae Jerome, 6th grade
  • Darren Nixon, 6th grade
  • DeTrevion Jerome, 7th grade
  • Joel Eugene Onyejiaka, 7th grade

“Our goal is to have chess clubs at all of the Varnett schools,” said Mr. Lonnie Reynolds, Varnett’s athletic director.

The Forward Times would like to congratulate the youth chess champions, along with Mr. Burton and Mr. Reynolds. Salute!

Photos by Mr. Burton and Mr. Peter McConnell, Varnett’s communications director