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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence middle school is marking a major milestone, celebrating 30 years of educating boys from diverse and challenging backgrounds.

Founded by Brother Lawrence Goyette in 1993, the San Miguel School is a Lasallian boys school located in Providence.

“It’s a place where young men and their families can find potential beyond anything that would be an option for them, in most cases,” Executive Director John Wolf said. “It gives boys a chance to be heard clearly, to be respected.”

“There’s a brotherhood in that building that makes it a place where they really want to come and continue their academic training,” he continued.

The middle school has unique ways to educating their students, including teaching them how to play chess.

12 News recently caught up with some San Miguel students showcasing their chess skills on the Providence Pedestrian bridge. (In the video above, watch 12 News anchor Mike Montecalvo face off against San Miguel students.)

Jayden Mason, an 8th grader at San Miguel, tells 12 News chess is educational.

“You have to use your brain and you have to think,” Mason said. “You’re trying to think what your opponent is going to do next.”

Wolf said there are educational benefits to playing chess.

“I was looking for ways to help the boys learn about analytical reasoning, prediction, pattern, recognition … things like that,” he explained. “Once it introduced it, it caught like wildfire.”

The chess matches attracted the attention of those passing by, several of which stopped to watch the middle schoolers.

“We’re committed to teaching children of the economically poor from places where economic poverty exists as if they were the children of kings, and that speaks to how I would want my children treated,” Wolf said.

When asked why Wolf chose San Miguel, he was quick to point out that the middle school actually chose him.

“I had a meeting with Brother Lawrence in 1997, and it helped guide me, my career and my life in a beautiful way,” he said.

The San Miguel School is a nonprofit that relies on donations provided by charitable support. Anyone interested in donating to the middle school can click here.

Wolf said acceptance into the San Miguel School is need-based, adding that boy and families of any religious background at considered. Those interested in scheduling a tour can call (401) 467-9777.

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