New Programs in Allendale: Chess and Robotics

Chess Set

Will your children participate in any extracurricular activities this fall? And will you be helping with anything?

Of course, I will be focused on coaching football this fall, in my second season as an assistant coach for Allendale-Fairfax High School. And I am excited about two new programs that will be launched at Allendale Elementary School, both of which we get to help with.

Chess: A Game of Kings and Kids

I have been teaching my kids to play chess for a couple of years now. My oldest son Elijah has shown the most interest so far; he and I even competed in a tournament earlier this year (and we will again this coming Saturday).

I had already been thinking about teaching kids in Allendale how to play chess, when I met Pedro de Abreu at TEDx-Columbia in January. He started  (among other things) the Check Mate Foundation, and this program has been in schools for years now. Unfortunately, the video for his talk does not work, but you can watch the video below, which gives a number of reasons why chess is so incredibly beneficial for children.

Chess has been shown to increase:

  • Math and reading test scores
  • Positive behavior
  • Problem solving skills
  • Memory
  • Self-esteem
  • and much, much more

Starting in September, using the videos that Pedro produced, I will be teaching chess to up to 20 students at Allendale Elementary School. We will meet before school once per week, starting September 10.

I have talked with a few teenagers and adults who are interested in volunteering, so I am excited about this opportunity to connect the schools and the community as a way to Improve Our School Report Card.

I’m excited for this opportunity for these students. I’m sure it will be fun, challenging, and helpful. And we plan to have a tournament at the end of the year.

Robotics: A Program for Success

Mindstorms Robotics Lego

Remember the robots that came to Allendale last winter? Through my job at USC-Salkehatchie, I was exposed to the FIRST Robotics program. There were no teams from Allendale last year, and or any previous year, for that matter.

When I went to the state competitions (one for the high school level and one for the junior high level) in the spring, I was impressed by the ingenuity and dedication of all the students who were involved. And I also thought, “We can do this in Allendale.”

Ms. Sheila Leath, the principal at Allendale Elementary, is excited to bring this program to her school. We have a teacher who will be the coach, although we are looking for another teacher to be a co-coach, especially for the sake of possibly expanding the program next year.

We will compete in the FIRST Lego League (FLL); this level is for 4th – 8th graders, although our team will be composed of 4th and 5th graders. A group of 16-18 children will meet weekly after school through the fall and spring. My wife is going to help out as well, and I will after football is done.

Do any of us know anything about robotics? Not really. But I am still confident that “We can do this.”

Edit: Read about how our team was Crazy for Robots and how the year ended for our Kings and Queens of chess.

Do you have any questions or comments? I’d love to hear them!

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5 responses to “New Programs in Allendale: Chess and Robotics”

  1. Tara N. Phoenix says :

    Hello. How can the kids sign up?

  2. Bud Ferillo says :

    Can’t thank you enough for your hands on service and leadership in Allendale. I hope it will set an example for others to follow.

    Bud Ferillo/

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