Photo Gallery | SRO At Dutch Fork High School Uses Chess To Teach Lessons On Life And Character
As a school resource officer at one of Lexington-Richland School District Five’s high
schools, Deputy Curtis Cannon is accustomed to keeping a watchful eye on students. This
summer that included something different: score cards, game boards and lots and lots of quiet
Cannon, a Richland County Sheriff’s Department SRO at Dutch Fork High School, held three
two-week summer chess camps at the school for students in grades 4 through 10. The event was
designed to teach students how to play chess and use the power of thinking, Cannon said.
“Chess can help students with their critical thinking and decision-making skills,” he said. “And
many people consider it a way for children to increase their concentration, memory, social skills,
self-esteem and a lot more. We’ve had a great response.”
More than 30 students participated in the camps this summer, the second year of the program.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department Summer Chess Camp is sponsored through a county
grant to provide supplies and snacks and keep costs at a low $25 per session. Participants receive
lessons and workbooks on chess before playing the game for the first time at the camp, and an
unrated tournament is held at the end. Though it’s open to any student in Richland County, many
of the campers like rising 9th grader Bryan Tran came from District Five schools.
“I just wanted to learn more about the game.” Tran said. “I think chess is interesting because it’s
universal, like music. It’s the same where ever you go. Chess pieces don’t change. The rules
don’t change. The chess board is black and white. The pieces are black and white. That’s why
people from different backgrounds are attracted to it.”
Family members were invited to join in, and Thomas Delaney took the opportunity to come with his
grand-nephew – a novice who picked up the game by watching others.
“People that play chess think in order because chess is a game of order. And actually, it teaches you
about life because for every mistake you make in chess there’s a consequence. For every mistake in
life, there’s also a consequence. It’s a thinking game … and that’s like life. You have to think if
you’re going to win.”
With the camp behind him, Cannon is now looking forward to the chess club he advises at Dutch
Fork High in addition to his main duties as an SRO. He admits, having the school’s resource officer
teach chess to students is a bit unexpected – but fits perfectly in his world of laws and order.
“I just love chess, and that’s why I started the chess camp and have the chess club. It’s a way to bring
old-school thinking to a new generation and bring kids from different backgrounds together. It’s also
just a lot of fun.”