The Mission San Jose Elementary chess team came out on top at the National Scholastic Chess Championship competition earlier this month.

Twenty-six members of the school's 64-member squad traveled to Nashville, Tenn., on the weekend of April 6 and took top honors in the K-6 Championship division. Two other MSJE teams took home big trophies, and a team of MSJE graduates from Hopkins Junior High finished in the top five in its division.

The MSJE team also won the K-6 championship in 2009, and the K-1 in 2001.

Team members' parents paid for the teams' trips to compete.

Coach Joe Lonsdale said team members meet every Monday evening to hone their game.

"A kid's brain can do almost everything as an adult's," said Lonsdale, a retired Fremont resident who has coached the school's team for 20 years, since his own son was a fourth-grader there.¿

Lonsdale also teaches a chess class, with help from 10 high school-level players, at the school every Friday afternoon.

"It's a hobby of mine," Lonsdale said. "And the kids are very special."

Students learn from costumes, food at Fremont school's Multicultural Week

Mission San Jose High is celebrating its diverse student population with Multicultural Week, a five-day festival highlighting cultures and customs from around the globe.


Advertisement

"The week reminds us to remain open-minded to other cultures and the freedom of expression that those cultures offer," said Ben Breazeale, who teaches the AP Leadership class presenting the week activities.

Each day this week, students have been encouraged to wear traditional clothing from a specific continent. Monday's theme was Africa, Tuesday's was Asia, Wednesday's was Europe and Thursday's was the Americas. Friday, students were encouraged to wear clothes representing their own culture.

All week long, students have been sampling food from dozens of nations.

"That's my favorite part," said Dennis Lee, a 12th-grade student who chairs the event's planning committee. "It was awesome to see the whole parking lot filled with students checking out food they'd never heard of before."

The festival is scheduled to conclude Friday with a student assembly featuring performances of several dance styles, such as Bollywood, Chinese folk, tinikling from the Philippines and traditional Bhangra from India. Other cultural performances will include Chinese martial arts and vocalists singing in French.

"It's a fun week in general," Lee said. "And it's a good way to expand your knowledge."

Castro Valley, Fremont schools win academic honors

Three area schools have been recognized for their academic achievements.

Canyon Middle School in Castro Valley and William Hopkins Junior High School in Fremont have been named California Distinguished Schools, and J. Haley Durham Elementary in Fremont received a Title I Academic Achievement Award.

Durham was among 56 California public schools recognized for sustained progress in academic improvement among students who live at or below the poverty line.

Canyon and Hopkins are among 218 honored by the California Department of Education for narrowing the achievement gap between higher-performing and lower-performing students.

Canyon had an API score of 876 in 2012, and Hopkins had an API score of 986.

Durham had an overall API score of 864, with 836 for socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

Sheila Jordan, superintendent of Alameda County Schools, called Durham a model for others.

"Through budget cuts and changing education standards, Durham Elementary continues to innovate teaching and learning to ensure quality education is accessible to all students," Jordan said in a statement.

The schools will be honored at an awards ceremony in May.

Homeroom is a weekly roundup of news from schools in the greater Hayward and Tri-City areas.