For kids in our hometown of Wilmington, NC that love chess, even a summer thunderstorm couldn’t keep them from coming out to play the game in the park and watching an outdoor screening of Brooklyn Castle. Thanks to our co-hosts for the event, Cape Fear Independent Film Network, we had four big tents to keep us dry while students from local elementary and middle schools competed against one another on the chess board. The kids and their families had a great time competing before the film, and by the time we were ready to start the movie the skies had cleared.
This Brooklyn Castle screening was part of our work with the Reel Education collective. We’re supporting the work of nine documentary filmmaking teams whose films are engaging educators, parents, youth, and policy makers in actions to improve the quality of education in their communities and in the nation as a whole. This screening certainly advanced the mission of the project. In addition to being a lot of fun, the screening helped make connections between organizations which will ultimately lead to more kids being exposed to chess and other high quality enrichment programs in the Wilmington community.
The audience heard from teachers George Preiss and Doris Flowers about how the students at Noble Middle School and Pine Valley Elementary benefit from being part of their chess clubs. Then, principal Eric Irizarry and enrichment coordinator Cameron Bolish from newly reopened D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, a public middle school serving inner city Wilmington, talked to the crowd about how they need additional support and advisers for their fledgling chess club. Steve Morales, head of the Wilmington Chess Club, was there and willing to provide assistance to them and other schools in the area that are starting clubs. He and the other members of the club are trying to do more to support scholastic chess in Wilmington, and the Brooklyn Castle screening was a great way for him to network with folks, like the leaders from Virgo, who could use their help. Things will get more exciting on the local scholastic chess front this fall. Mr. Morales announced a sanctioned scholastic tournament that the group is hosting at nearby Wrightsville Beach in November, and that some of the kids who played chess at the screening will be participating. We also had youth from DREAMS, an amazing after-school program that serves many kids from across our school district, represented at the screening. Students from their teen council volunteered to setup at the event and got a shout out before the screening.
It was a fun evening for all involved, where a sizable crowd got to see this amazing film and make connections to after-school programs in our community. We’re looking forward to doing more screenings of other Reel Education films to support efforts to improve education for all kids in our local area.