The more things change, the more things stay they same. While technology has dominated our world and a lot of our free time, Holy Cross Collegiate (HCC) students are spending their free time engaging in perhaps the most classic of all games: chess.

HCC teacher and chess club organizer Brent Wiley explained he had the thought to start a chess club on Black Friday when he saw a sale on boards for only $4, so he bought six of them thinking he might get lucky to have 12 interested students. However, it turns out chess has become an internet phenom recently, resulting in 67 students joining the club! That's just about 20% of the entire school.

"All the other teachers are walking by and they can't believe the room, I have to kick kids out at lunch because there's too many kids. They'll ask to borrow boards and they'll go play chess in other rooms at lunch, so you'll walk down the halls and there's kids playing chess by the dozens," he said.

While it's a surprise, it was definitely a welcome one for Wiley, who never expected the chess club to be so popular. He said he wanted to start the club to give students a chance to engage in community activities again, after the last 2-3 covid years where it was impossible to have big group settings like this.  

"It's all too easy for kids to just pull out their cell phones and sit there staring at a screen at lunch. But to have them joking, laughing, and learning a new skill, it's fantastic."

While most people would think of sports or physical activities when it comes to school clubs, Wiley is happy that he was able to start a chess club for students who may not be interested in sports but still want a way to engage with their peers and have fun.

"It's important that schools offer alternatives to sports. I myself am not a sporty guy so having something that's an alternative is a big win and it's important that schools are offering those kinds of things."

The club has since expanded to 18 boards, meaning 36 students can play at once.

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