CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago alderman has helped arrange for a free roundtrip flight to Nashville for the championship chess team from a high school in West Englewood, so the students can attend the largest chess tournament in the world.
The Earle STEM Academy chess team is getting free airfare to the U.S. Chess Federation’s Supernationals in Nashville, thanks to Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th), a former Southwest skycap.
Lopez said the airline didn’t hesitate to donate 10 roundtrip tickets to the team after he told them of their continued success in chess.
“Too often our headlines, our stories, our narratives are negative; and it was important to me, as I’m sure it was for the airline as well as the school, that we highlight and showcase this positive story,” he said.
Southwest said the students will get the “VIP treatment.”
“The company stepped right to the plate, took the first swing at the ball, and knocked it out of the park with 10 roundtrip tickets to get the students, their chaperones, and the coach to Nashville,” Lopez said.
The alderman said the chess team still needs help raising money for other expenses for the three-day tournament, which will be held from May 12-14.
Lopez said the Earle STEM team has proven they are champions before, and will do so again.
The girls’ team won a national championship last year, and 7th grader Tamya Fultz won first place in individual chess in a Chicago Public Schools tournament in March. Earle STEM students won four first-place trophies overall in the 2015-16 academic year.