Henderson Chess Team makes EPISD, El Paso proud.

Being the Superintendent of Schools of a large district like EPISD is not an easy job. The task of leading all efforts to provide a high-quality education to more than 60,000 is grand, and I certainly take it very seriously. But the stress, scrutiny and long hours are all worth it when our kids go off and do something so grand … so substantial, that it brings pride to the entire city.

Once again, the students of EPISD are reaching unprecedented heights, and the city is much better off because of it. I am so proud of the Henderson Middle School Chess Team for being the first El Paso middle-school team ever to win first place at the U.S. Chess Federation National Junior High Chess Tournament this past weekend.

This young team of sixth-graders has been making headlines all year long by overcoming several obstacles on their way to winning the Texas chess title, and then mobilizing a whole community to support them financially as they prepared for the national tournament in Louisville, Ky.

Henderson Teacher and Chess Team Coach Saul Ramirez should be praised for taking a team with not much experience playing chess (in fact, some had never played before joining the team) and turning them into national champions. All members of the team are in the sixth-grade and one can only imagine that things could only improve from this point on.

I was also heartened to see the support that the team received from throughout El Paso. More than 100 people showed up to the El Paso International Airport to welcome the team on Monday night. What’s even better, nearly all of them stayed when the airlines announced that the flight had been delayed and would be arriving well past 9 p.m. – past the bedtime of many of the kids in attendance.

It has also been great to see the many signs of support and congratulations throughout El Paso, including a great ad on the marquee of the Fountains at Farah shopping center.

In the next couple of weeks, the Henderson team will be recognized at several venues. Already, the El Paso County Commissioner’s Court and El Paso City Council have scheduled the team to be recognized during meetings in May. The El Paso Chihuahuas are also planning a recognition during one of their home games.

I hope you can join EPISD as we recognize and celebrate the great accomplishment of the Henderson Middle School Chess Team. Go Hornets!

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