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Local student wins elite award for creating chess academy
Srikar Karra
Srikar Karra

A Forsyth County high school student has been selected as one of 20 young people from Georgia awarded with the 2018 Georgia Youth Leadership Award.

According to 21st Century Leaders, a state organization focused on inspiring high school students to lead, Srikar Karra, a 16-year-old junior at South Forsyth High School was presented with his award on Feb. 24 at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

“I’m honored to receive the Youth Leadership Award and want my story to motivate other people,” Karra said.

Karra was nominated for the award for his work to create and run a chess academy to teach students as young as 5 the principles of chess and raise money for several non-profit organizations.

He said that over the last year the academy, Insight Chess, has raised more than $1,000 for groups that fight poverty and hunger in developing nations.

Insight Chess, Karra said, allows children of any background or skill level to come to Karra and learn to play chess from skilled coaches for a low fee. 

“My main goal and motivation is to influence other high schoolers like myself and be able to motivate them to do what I’ve done,” Karra said.

He said that he started playing chess at the age of 6 after being taught the game by his dad. He said that playing the game throughout the years has taught him valuable lessons about life and how to strive for greatness.

“Chess is a lot about success and defeat. You win some, you lose some. It’s similar to life, because you learn from your lessons,” he said.

He said that the constant struggle to get better in chess taught him how to push forward through adverse situations in real life and learn from mistakes.

“There are some downhills, but you don’t give up. You analyze your game, and analyze your life, and you get back up and start again,” he said.

According to Karra, the idea to expand the academy into a way to help the less fortunate developed over time, but was sparked by experiences he had as a kid.

He said that when he was younger his family supported several struggling Indian high schoolers that needed money for food, and years later when he started the academy he remembered how good it felt to help out and give back to people in need.

“Ever since I was young, I really liked helping people out. Whether I get something out of that or not, I just wanted to know I was doing something for the community,” he said.

He said next steps for Insight Chess are to raise funds for a local charity and gain a non-profit status for his group.