COPPERAS COVE, Texas — When someone thinks about the game of chess, they probably wouldn't expect a fourth grader to pick up the pieces.
But at J. L. Williams Ledger School in Copperas Cove, fourth and fifth grade students have been inspired by their science teacher.
“My parents said that I'm not really old enough to learn that game yet because they said that I wouldn't really understand so much," fourth grade student Angela Mateo said.
When school is out, Mark Collins turns his classroom into a chess club.
"They learn responsibility, they learn consequences, and even patience,” Collins said.
Angela considers herself queen of the board.
“My favorite thing about chess is beating the opponents and taking out the horses to play."
If you ask, Collins' chess is a win for all of his students.
“You rush into a move, you're going to pay the consequences quickly, but there's also rewards," Collins said.
A reward that goes beyond the board. In its first year, the chess club recruited dozens of students.
“We had 34 sign up for our fourth grade club, and the fifth grade club had another 20, so suddenly we had, like, 54 kids interested in chess on the fourth and fifth grade level which was shocking,” Collins said.
This is hopefully the start of encouraging more kids to put down their phone and pick up a chess piece.
Collins hopes his chess club can compete in regional and state competitions next year.