Baltimore Junior Academy Students Participate in Chess Tournament

Nia Burton, BJA kindergartener, concentrates before she makes her next move at the chess tournament.

Story by LaTasha Hewitt

A group of Baltimore Junior Academy (BJA) students from the Allegheny East Conference recently hosted and participated in their first annual Baraka Shabazz Junior Chess Tournament. The tournament is named after Shabazz, a 12-year-old black female chess player, who in the late ’70s became known as one of the youngest chess champions.

For the past several months, community partners and chess club coaches Tina Stevenson and Andre J. Coxson, Jr., have been teaching BJA students how to play chess. At the tournament, organizers grouped players into different categories based on proficiency and age. Students fully engaged in their chess games, but also took time to build relationships with participating players from public schools. Family members, vendors and sponsors came out to observe the matches.

BJA participants included second-place winner Kamryn Watkins (sixth grade); first-place winner Josiah Huggins (third grade); second-place winner Jasmine Campbell (first grade); Abigail Moore (third grade); Rayna Ellison (fourth grade); and Nia Burton (kindergarten).

“We have already seen the positive effects our chess club has had on the participants in and out of the classroom,” says David Turner, principal. “We look forward to seeing their growth, and vow to continue supporting them in their endeavors.”