CPHS CLUB SPLOTLIGHT: Bringing Students Together Through Chess

January 23, 2023

CPHS CLUB SPLOTLIGHT: Bringing Students Together Through Chess

Hudson Hsieh

Carle Place High School is a reflection of its small town America at its core. It’s reminiscent of an era where high school was the heart and soul of a town. It’s a school where its spirit rings loudly from the hallways to the packed stadiums for homecoming and, finally, all the way to the class colors in the battle of the classes. In such a small town, it could be hard to find people with similar interests to make friends with.

As a result, Mrs. Lipson decided to take over as the advisor of the Chess Club. “I decided to [be an advisor] because I wanted a place for all types of kids. In Carle Place, the athletes know where they fit, the brainy kids know where they fit, there are a whole lot of other kids that don’t know where they fit. I wanted to create a club where they fit.” So in 2021, Mrs. Lipson enlisted the help of current junior Ryan Dunn to help create a new revamped version of  the Chess Club. In 2022, the new version of the Chess Club headed by Mrs. Lipson and Ryan Dunn were launched.

The Chess Club strikes that perfect balance between creating an inclusive environment for new members while being a place where students can meet up with their friends and have fun. As club president Ryan Dunn puts it, “It’s a club which unites all varieties of people to come together under one roof and enjoy each other’s company and create new bonds and friendships.” As for why he agreed to lead the club, Ryan said “I decided to form this club because I wanted to bring kids together who maybe weren’t as popular as other kids or have as many friends. The Chess Club gives people the chance to have an outlet for their interests and to create new friends.”

In the Chess Club, students play more than just chess; in fact, the students in the Chess Club play Jenga, card games, and even Nintendo. It’s a club unlike any other club that can be found in Carle Place. Its unconventional execution works for great results, as twenty to thirty members attend each meeting.

Inside the club, students can be seen playing all types of games. This was the intention of the club right from the start. As President Ryan Dunn states, “My initial goal of the Chess Club is to make sure everyone has fun and can keep everyone’s interest.” This goal is what makes the Chess Club so unique from other clubs in the school; it’s able to bring people together by doing the things they want to.

Ryan, in particular, wanted to create a space where students can relax and see people they normally wouldn’t have classes with in the day. “As a student, [the Chess Club] means opportunity, freedom to express yourself and to enjoy yourself after a hard working day at school.” To comment on the success of the club Ryan said “No, When I first established this club I wasn’t able to picture it. I wasn’t sure if people were going to be interested in it, how powerful it would become.” Mrs. Lipson commented that the hardest part of creating the club was the beginning, “In the beginning it’s more work, but now it runs itself. I have the most amazing team of students [that help to keep the games running and to make sure that everyone has a turn].”

That’s what makes the Chess Club so special. It acts as a microcosm within the school, a community whose members may not see each other during the day, but are able to come together every Wednesday and have fun. The Chess Club room is like a bubble. Upon entering, it’s difficult to tell that you are at school. Furthermore, it gives a sense of belonging to people who feel like they don’t fit in. As Mrs. Lipson puts it, “ It’s something people can look forward to every week…. It’s a place for all different kids to have fun.” It works so much better than previous attempts at inclusion programs and clubs, because it brings students together in an environment where they don’t feel ashamed of being who they are.

The Chess Club brings back the old school feeling of being a part of a club, because it’s fun and that freedom from responsibilities is often a refreshing feeling for students. For Mrs. Lipson, it gives her the chance to meet students that she wouldn’t have had,  “It allowed me to get to know some kids that I wouldn’t have known.”

As for the future, Mrs. Lipson is currently researching ideas for a potential new club after the success of the Chess Club. As for Ryan, his outlook on future of the club is bright. “I see the future of the Chess Club as becoming more expansive, involving more types of games. I see it remaining local and personal as well. [Furthermore]I see this as a multi-year project and will continue to have a great impact [on the school].”

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