Little Harbour fourth-grader Max Martin plays a game of chess Monday with teacher Steve Shulton in front of a large group of classmates. The demonstration came as each student received their own chess set from the Portsmouth Rotary as part of the Jeremy Alex Fund. (Deb Cram)

Students receive chess sets and a life lesson
Rotarian who lost son presents gift

By Abbie Hackett
February 16, 2010 2:00 AM

PORTSMOUTH — Little Harbour School fourth-graders were taught an invaluable lesson Monday on choices and consequences, but they didn’t learn it on the playground or in a classroom.

They learned it in the gym seated around a 9-square-foot chessboard, a larger version of the tournament-quality travel chess set, carrying case and instructional booklet they were all given by Ted Alex, Portsmouth Rotarian and founder of the Jeremy Alex Fund.

The fund was formed in memory of Alex’s son Jeremy, who loved chess and disappeared in 2004 at age 28, as a result of his struggles with drugs and addiction. This is the third straight year the fund has gifted the city’s fourth-graders with chess sets.

“When you make decisions in chess, you have to suffer the consequences,” Alex told the students, explaining Jeremy chose to become involved with drugs, a decision that cost him his life. “We hope that you will learn to make better decisions.”

Alex wheeled in a cart with more than 50 chess sets with the help of Rotarians John Hebert and Neal Ouellett. The men were part of the search team and helped Alex form the Jeremy Alex Fund. “Chess is a good thinking tool for the kids,” Hebert said. Besides helping kids recognize consequences of their actions, he added the travel cases make it “something they can take with them that doesn’t require electricity.”

Little Harbour physical education teacher and chess club co-coach Steve Schulten and student Max Martin played a game on the huge chessboard. They thoughtfully moved pawns, rooks, bishops and knights as students watched and cheered. Martin captured Schulten’s knight with his queen, but it was a trap.

“He made a mistake, and now he’s going to pay the consequence,” Schulten said, plucking Martin’s queen off the board to fourth-grader Sebastian Logue’s cry of “Redeem yourself!”

Here is the full article.

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