On May 17, 2023, Vincent Bogert was announced as the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a veteran chess coordinator at P.S./M.S. 279, a public school in the Bronx. After the ceremony, CIS…
Words from a CIS Parent
Homaris Castillo’s son Devin is a Chess in the Schools alumnus, now studying at Fordham University. Homaris is a proud mom, and continuous advocate for chess.
So, I’ve heard, the origin of this interview was that you ran into Ron Boocock, CIS’s School Program Director, on the street?
Yes! I thought, I need to say hi to him, you know, because I saw him and I really appreciate the work he’s been doing for these many, many years. When he asked me about this interview, I said I was so excited, because my son Devin has been playing chess back at least since 2007 or 2008, so we’ve known Ron for a long time! And now I’m always talking about chess, because it’s been amazing for us.
Devin was a Chess in the Schools student, right? What’s he up to now?
Yes, he’s 22 now, and he studies at Fordham University.
When did he get started in chess?
In primary school. I remember the first Nationals tournament we did, because I was pregnant with my baby, and I had to let Devin go with a friend’s parents. I was so sad! That was the Super Nationals in Tennessee, and it was 2009. So he had started playing sometime before that, at school 226 in the Bronx.
Was he pretty active in the tournaments?
He was, including the local tournaments in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. I was the mother that went to every tournament! We’d bring fruit, and sometimes they have food there. It’s an amazing experience. Not only for Devin, but all the students, they really enjoyed the program. And it helped me meet a lot of other parents, ever since Devin was little, and make more friends that way.
We also got to travel, to Tennessee, to Georgia, to Ohio. One day, I think it was a month ago, I saw a student with a trophy, and their parent. I thought, I have to talk with him! And I said, you’re doing amazing! At their age, maybe they don’t understand now, but Devin has thanked me, for all those years. But I do it for joy, I want to be there, I want to share the moments.
What’s Devin studying in college now?
He’s interested in psychology; he’s told me that he wants to do something where he can help people. I think through chess, through Devin’s whole life, these students have learned how to help each other.
Both chess and psychology involve a lot of analysis, and the ability to think very carefully.
Exactly, exactly. Before Devin was in chess, he had some problems with math, but after he joined CIS, he started understanding better. I think he’s become more able to focus.
So how else has chess influenced Devin?
Because of chess, Devin got a scholarship to Fordham, so I’m really happy. And through CIS, they did community things, like cleaning the parks. Also, he’s teaching chess right now, and earning really good money, teaching both little kids and big kids. So you know, what he learned through his life, he’s doing it right now. He has the skill to do it. He learned those skills through all these years by being involved and playing.
I keep all his trophies and the medals and everything. For me, it is a memory. One time we went to Super Nationals and they played until really late, to finish the last game. Everybody left, and it was almost 11 o’clock, and it was just us there with a coach while he finished the game.
That does sound like focus, like you’ve said! Was it surprising, how far he would go with chess?
I really didn’t know how far he’d go! We didn’t know, in the beginning, that he would eventually get a scholarship. He just enjoyed chess, he enjoyed the program. We have family in Georgia, and when Devin went to play there, the family came out to see him. Sometimes, when we all get together, they call him the “campeón.” (laughs)
I’d hope that every school can include this kind of programming, because it’s helped a lot. I’m really glad, because people like Ron, the people in CIS are doing what they love, and it has an impact. I was glad when I saw him in the Bronx! I said, you remember me? He did!
So if I have something to say about chess, it’s that chess changes the students’ lives. It helps families, it’s helped economically, it’s helped with friendships, and it helps you grow as a person. I’m glad, and I’m happy for Chess in the Schools, and I’m thankful.