“Before, we were having lots of skirmishes downstairs, and this helps,” librarian Karen Sherman said. “It starts their day off with a certain calm. They’re not stirred up by what someone else has said.”

For Donte, his initiative was about preparing himself and others to play chess when he goes to high school.

“It’s mainly strategy and focusing,” he said of the game’s strengths, “because without focusing and paying attention to what you’re doing, somebody’s going to take your king or queen in a heartbeat.”

School administrators give Donte the credit for other sounds in the morning, those of ropes slapping the pavement and drummers drumming. Three other early morning clubs – a drumline, web design and double-dutch jump rope clubs – have started. Don Cummings, Virgo’s principal, said about 30 students are involved in early morning clubs.

“It’s beautiful because they come to school, get their breakfast and go straight to chess or other clubs,” Cummings said.

“When you invest in a child, you perpetuate greatness in society because they are our future.”