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Checkmate! Success Academy Scholars Take Top Spots at New York State Chess Championships

Contact: Dan Bank, (212) 681-1380

[email protected]

More than 120 Success Academy students participate in 49th Annual New York State Scholastic Championships

New York, NY Scholars from across Success Academy schools placed at the top of their respective divisions in the 49th Annual New York State Scholastic Championships held on March 12-13 in Saratoga Springs, New York. Top performers included:

  • Brewington Hardaway, a first grader at SA Harlem 4, won first place in the K-1 Championship division.
  • The SA Cobble Hill team – consisting of Nura Baalla, Margaret Stacey, Aarush Sharma, and Vincenzo Montanti – finished sixth place in the Elementary Championship division.
  • SA Bronx 1 Middle School team – consisting of Angel Chavarria, Jaidyn Paulino, Joseph Gahuancela, and Abdoulaye Amadou – won first place in the Middle School Reserve division.
  • SA Harlem East Middle School team – consisting of Rodney Marte-Ledesma, Addam Senhaji, Andrew Breton, and Shaharia Khan – won third place in the Middle School Reserve division.
  • In the Middle Schools Reserve division, Success Academy had 5 of the top 15 teams, including SA Cobble Hill, SA Harlem 4, and SA Union Square.
  • In the Elementary Championship division, Success Academy had 5 of the top 20 teams: SA Cobble Hill, SA Harlem East, SA Upper West, SA Midtown West, and SA Bronx 1.

“It’s an incredible experience to participate in events like the NY State Chess Championship,” said Sean O’Hanlon, the Senior Manager of Chess at Success Academy Charter Schools. “Everywhere you look, there are parents and educators who believe that children can have fun while pushing the limits of their intellect and creativity. And the kids just can’t get enough chess.”

Middle school scholars will next compete at the United States Chess Federation Junior High Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 18. Elementary level scholars will travel to Nashville, Tennessee, on May 6 to compete in the United States Chess Federation Elementary School Nationals.  

All Success Academy students, from kindergarten through fourth grade, take chess as a part of the required curriculum. In 2015-­16, that represents about 9,000 students. Starting in fifth grade, chess is offered as an elective.

About 500 students currently participate in chess clubs, with some as young as kindergarten. Success Academy emphasizes parents’ involvement and updates them regularly on the performance of their club, both at tournaments and as tracked internally.

With 30 dedicated chess teachers, 28 of whom coach scholars for tournament competition, Success Academy employs more full-­time chess coaches than any other school entity in New York City. Success Academy chess coaches work Tuesday through Saturday to support weekend tournament play.



Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public pre-k through 12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 34 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 11,000 students, primarily low-income children of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 95% are children of color, 13% are children with disabilities, and 8.5% are English language learners. Ranked in the top 1% in math and the top 3% in English on 2015 state proficiency tests, Success Academy schools received more than 22,000 applications for fewer than 2,300 open seats last year. Two Success Academy schools, Success Academy Harlem 1 and Harlem 3, have been honored as National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education, the only Harlem schools in the last 25 years to receive this prestigious award.

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