30 students square off in Holmes chess tournament

Thirty Holmes Junior High students recently squared off in a chess tournament in ninth-grade science teacher Maria Hoekstra’s classroom during Tiger Time. The winner was seventh-grader Alexander Fuchtman who bested eighth-grader Clayton Lauritsen in the final round. Fuchtman’s prize will be a free Jimmy John’s meal. 

In regards to what was fun about hosting the tournament, Hoekstra, “I was so excited about the large range of students who participated. All grades, genders, academic abilities, social groups and even chess ability levels were represented on the bracket. I also loved how much respect was shown between the wide range of students. Even when a match wasn’t going a student’s way, both players consistently kept composure and showed respect. During the final, the semi-finalists and I were laughing about how relaxed and kind Alexander and Clayton were to each other. It felt fun and relaxed even though it was the championship match. This tournament gave me so much life during a time of the school year that is hard on everyone.”

Hoekstra said that students seemed to really enjoy participating. Hoekstra said, “I feel students, teachers and the families of participants all enjoyed it. The number of kids begging to spectate the final match is proof of that. I turned away dozens of students in order to make sure it was quiet in my room for the final. I also was constantly being asked for tournament updates from students and teachers as I traveled through the hallways. Many students and teachers asked to have me stream the final, which ultimately pushed me to bring in my streaming equipment to make that happen. Both finalists had multiple family members log on to watch the final matches between Alexander & Clayton.”

Hoekstra said she hopes for the tournament to continue in the future. Hoekstra said, “I hope to organize two tournaments a school year. I also hope to reach out to our community so I can receive financial help with prizes for our tournament winners.”

Ninth grader Casper Morgan, who also participated in the tournament, said, “I thought it would be fun to compete with my peers. I also really enjoyed the learning experience.”

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