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Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy will recognize scholars for academic progress and outstanding achievement at the 2016 Honors Day ceremony at 9 a.m. Wednesday, May 18, in the school cafeteria. Scholars in grades 1-4, 6, and 7 will be honored. Scholars may invite up to four guests to share in the excitement of Honors Day.
Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls will recognize scholars for academic progress and outstanding achievement at the 2016 Honors Day ceremony at 9 a.m. today, Tuesday, May 17, in the school cafeteria. Scholars in grades 1-4, 6, and 7 will be honored. Scholars may invite up to four guests to share in the excitement of Honors Day.
Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood will hold promotion ceremonies on Monday to celebrate the academic achievement and growth of kindergartners, fifth, and eighth graders.
Combined ceremonies will be held for scholars at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls and Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy. Scholars can invite up to four guests to the ceremonies.
Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell will be guest speaker for the kindergarten ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 16. YMLA scholars should wear a black-collared shirt and black slacks. Kindergarten girls should wear dresses.
Mitchell, a graduate of Morehouse College, is an attorney who works in global real estate and finance at the international firm DLA Piper. He served on the Atlanta City Council for eight years before being elected as president of the council.
Fifth Grade Ceremony
Tolton Pace, Chairman of the Ivy Preparatory Academy Board of Trustees, will be guest speaker for the fifth grade promotion ceremony at 11 a.m. YMLA scholars should wear a white shirt, black slacks, and a gold tie to the event. Girls should wear a white dress and white shoes.
Pace, a youth pastor, has worked for several nonprofits that focus on helping students achieve their college dreams. He is a former college scholarship coordinator with Project GRAD at Atlanta Public Schools. He currently works as a staff associate for the Washington High School Cluster, and a College and Latino Ministry Coordinator for Young Life, a nonprofit youth support services network.
Eighth Grade Ceremony
Alisha Morgan, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academies, will be guest speaker for the eighth grade promotion ceremony at 6 p.m. YMLA scholars should wear a white shirt, a gold tie, black slacks, and an Ivy blazer. Girls should wear a white dress and white shoes.
Morgan, a national leader in education reform, is a former state legislator who co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment expanding school choice in Georgia. She was elected to the State Legislature at age 23, and was the first African American to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives. In 2012, Morgan co-sponsored state legislation that allowed an alternate state authorizer to open charter schools denied by reluctant local school districts. Morgan was also appointed by former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to serve on a committee that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a federal guideline to increase school accountability for student achievement.
Morgan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Drama from Spelman College and is a earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Kennesaw State University. She is an entrepreneur, a nationally sought after motivational speaker, and a graduate of the prestigious Broad Superintendent’s Academy, an 18-month program that prepares executives to lead and transform urban schools districts.
Fourth grader Kimberly Elliott saw a television commercial seeking donations for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and decided to ask some of her friends at Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls to join her in a fund-raising campaign.
“I wanted to help people,” Elliott said. “St. Jude Hospital helps over 16,000 kids a year. Some of them have cancer.”
Elliott told her classmates Mikalah Smith and Tianna Watt about St. Jude hospital.
The Tennessee-based medical center provides free services to children with catastrophic childhood diseases. It also covers food, housing, and travel expenses for the families of its patients. According to the hospital’s website, cancer treatments invented at St. Jude, which opened 50 years ago, have increased the childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent.
“Kimberly asked us to help her raise money for St. Jude Hospital, and we thought it was a great idea,” said Watt.
The three then contacted Jeannie McCree, the parent coordinator for Ivy Prep Kirkwood School for Girls, and asked her to make the drive a school project. The girls have raised nearly $350 in donations from teachers, support staff, and parents. Scholars who participated in Spirit Week also donated $2 to support St. Jude.
Principal Sherry Miller said that she was proud of the fourth graders for launching the effort.
“At Ivy Prep, we teach our scholars to be leaders and community servants,” Miller said. “I am proud of our scholars who led and contributed to the campaign to help St. Jude.”
To contribute to the fund, contact Ms. McCree at 404-622-2727.
Titus is considering an offer to attend Chatham Hall, a college preparatory school founded in 1894. The school has 140 scholars and a scenic campus that sits on 362 acres. Tuition is $48,000.
“I am thinking about attending high school at a private all-girls boarding school,” Titus said. “I was accepted, and they gave me a generous scholarship.”
Famous alumnae of Chatham Hall include artist Georgia O’Keeffe, NPR broadcaster, Ann Taylor, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Claudia Emerson.
In July 2015, Titus was one of four members of Ivy Prep’s Beta Club to compete in the academic Quiz Bowl at Junior Beta Club’s national conference in Nashville, Tenn. The team placed fourth out of 35 teams playing a Jeopardy-style Quiz game that tested their mastery of math, literature, social studies, and science. In November 2014, Titus and fellow members of Ivy Prep’s Beta Club Quiz Bowl team qualified for nationals after defeating 75 contenders to win second place in a state competition.
Titus is among about a handful of Ivy Prep scholars to be accepted to elite boarding schools.
One of those scholars, Justice Robinson, is now a sophomore at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. Phillips is the alma mater of former US. Presidents George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush.
Robinson received a full scholarship at Andover, which costs $50,000 a year.
Vazquez-Mendoza, 12, is an honor student at Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett. She will serve as Georgia’s Beta Club president for one year and compete for the national presidency in New Orleans this summer. The National Beta Club, which has been serving students for 80 years, is the country’s largest independent youth organization. It promotes scholarship, leadership, character, and community service, and has more than 350,000 members nationwide.
“It feels good to be the state president,” said Vazquez-Mendoza. “I want to help others who want to become leaders like me to follow their dreams.”
Vazquez-Mendoza is the first Ivy Prep Gwinnett scholar elected to a state office. She was nominated for Beta Club after a successful year in sixth grade. Ivy scholars in grades 6-8 who have good behavior and a grade point average of at least a 3.5 are recommended by teachers to be considered for membership in the elite organization.
“There is a high standard to be in Beta Club,” said Asia Aaron, an eighth grader at IPA Gwinnett. “You have to be a really good student. Beta Club helps you prepare for the future and it looks great on your resume as you apply for high school and college.”
IPA Beta Club members in grades 7-8 travel to the annual state leadership conference each year to compete against other chapters and attend leadership seminars. Vazquez-Mendoza won the state presidency during the school’s visit to the conference on Nov. 19-20 at Macon Marriott City Center.
Dr. LaShunda Hawkins, assistant principal at IPA Gwinnett, picked the seventh grader to run for state office. Vazquez-Mendoza said Ivy Prep’s focus on perseverance, leadership, engagement, and professionalism helped her to overcome some of anxiety over public speaking and meeting new people.
“I used to be really shy when I was younger,” she said. “The minute that I would stand up in front of the class my brain would go blank. Ivy Prep helps you to be more confident in yourself. You learn about leadership, public speaking, and have the opportunity to make a lot of new friends. With the help of my family, my friends, and my teachers, I overcame my fears.”
During the Macon conference, Vazquez- Mendoza cheered on her Beta Club teammates as they competed in the Quiz Bowl, Tower-building, Banner Design, and Living Literature events. Then, it was her turn. She battled butterflies in her stomach as she practiced her speech for the election. Her challenge seemed daunting. She had to introduce herself to a conference of more than 400 students, gain their trust quickly, and convince them to support her bid for president.
“Sophia, the Beta Club president at Ivy, told me to come into the restroom and repeat my speech over and over loud enough so that everybody could hear me when I walked up to the podium,” Vazquez-Mendoza recalled. “She kept telling me ‘Louder! Louder!’”
Other members also came in to coach her. “It was a wonderful team effort,” Dr. Hawkins, Beta Club sponsor, said.
Vazquez-Mendoza was the ninth and final candidate to give her speech to the packed room. Her Ivy Beta Club team members joined her on stage to do a skit and dance performance afterwards. Then, voting was held.
The following day, Vazquez-Mendoza was called on stage and named state president.
“When they announced my name as the winner, everybody screamed,” she said. “I called my parents right after. They were very happy.”
The good news brought Veronica Vazquez-Mendoza, Selina’s mother to tears. Her father Jose Vazquez-Mendoza was also floored. “I cried because I was so happy,” Veronica Vazquez-Mendoza said. “I knew that she was smart, but I never expected anything like this. I couldn’t believe it. Her father was so excited.”
Mr. Chaz Patterson, principal of IPA Gwinnett, is still beaming over the win. “I’m elated and overjoyed, not for just the school, but for Selina,” he said. “I have seen tremendous growth in her. It’s great to see that her fellow students in the state of Georgia also see her leadership potential. This is just a stepping stone in her limitless potential.”
The seventh grader says her win is proof that with the support of teachers, friends, and family that students can overcome anything. “I want to tell my fellow scholars that even though they have obstacles, they can achieve their goals,” she said. “If we help each other, we don’t have to struggle as much.”
The entire Ivy Prep Beta Club shared in her victory, Dr. Hawkins said. “Even though we had some sad faces after tough team competitions, when Selina won the presidency, she did it with the help of her sisters at Ivy. The fact that we walked away with the state presidency shows that our girls did an awesome job.”
Administrators at Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett recently inducted high-achieving scholars into the Beta Club, IPA’s first student organization to receive national recognition for the academic prowess of its members.
The Ivy Prep Academy Beta Club promotes scholarship, leadership, character, and community service. Ivy scholars in grades 6-8 who have good behavior and a grade point average of at least a 3.5 are recommended by teachers to be considered for membership in the prestigious organization.
“It’s an honor to be in Beta Club,” said Dr. LaShunda Hawkins, assistant principal at IPA Gwinnett, who serves as the new sponsor for Beta Club. “It teaches you how to become a leader and how to work as a team. “
Beta Club members in grades 7-8 travel to an annual state leadership conference each year that features motivational speakers and club competitions.
Ivy Prep scholar Selena Vasquez was elected as state president during the Beta Club state conference on Nov. 19-20 at Macon Marriott City Center.
In July, four members of Ivy Prep’s Beta Club – Jedidah Titus, Mackenzie Williams, Shama Khan and Janai Kameka – competed as a team at Junior Beta Club’s national conference in Nashville, Tenn., where they placed fourth playing a Jeopardy-style Quiz Bowl game that tested their mastery of math, literature, social studies, and science. The scholars took a test with 25 questions and a bonus essay to earn a spot in the final rounds. They competed against teams from 35 states across the country.
“We are the only group in Georgia that made the top four,’’ beamed Mr. Chaz Patterson, principal of IPA Gwinnett. “I was so elated that our girls went in and did what they needed to do and got fourth place.”
“This is the first Ivy Prep group to make it to nationals,” said Ms. Linda Desmond, who led the organization last school year and attended nationals with the group. “I am really proud of them. They learned that they can achieve anything that they put their mind to.”
Beta Team Ivy qualified for nationals after winning second place in the Quiz Bowl at the state conference in Macon last November. The team defeated 75 contenders. Ivy Prep took 36 Beta Club members to the overnight conference to compete in a variety of events that showcased their intellectual and artistic talents.
Ivy Prep’s Beta Club is a local chapter of National Beta Club, the country’s largest independent nonprofit youth organization. National Beta Club has been serving scholars for 80 years. It has more than 350,000 members nationwide.
Beta Club is one of Ivy Prep’s largest student organizations. In addition to attending the state conference, club members also host community service activities.
Sixth graders become eligible for Beta Club membership after report cards are issued.
“We are looking at kids who have been on the honor roll and who exemplify our Prep Values – Professionalism, Responsibility, Engagement and Perseverance,” Hawkins said. “We teach them about leadership and everything they need to know to prepare for college.”
Young dancers at Ivy Preparatory Academy Kirkwood School for Girls have been invited to participate in Governor Nathan Deal’s state kickoff of Red Ribbon Week on Thursday.
The student step team and dance company will make their second appearance in two years at the annual Red Ribbon ceremony, which will mark the official start of a week’s long effort to teach Georgia public school children about the dangers of illegal drug use and under-aged alcohol consumption. Governor Deal has issued a proclamation declaring Oct. 23 -31 as Red Ribbon Week. The proclamation calls on parents, educators and community leaders to “demonstrate their commitment to healthy, drug-free lifestyles by wearing and displaying red ribbons during the week-long campaign.”
Ivy Preparatory Academies will mark the observance with school discussions and other activities. A Red Ribbon Week parade will be held at the Kirkwood campus in Atlanta on October 30. The student dance team also will perform at the parade.
The student dancers are choreographed by Footloose and Company of Atlanta. The team has been practicing their Red Ribbon Week dance numbers for more than a month.
On a recent day, choreographers Toris Jones and Ida Oliver led the group of young dancers as they stretched, kicked, and bounced to the beat of a chart-topping pop song. The determined dancers were committed to their artistry. They rehearsed their routine again and again in anticipation of a flawless performance for Gov. Deal.
“We are very excited to participate in the ceremony,” Jones said. “This will be our second year. We had a trial run last year with steppers. It went so well that they expected for us to come back without even trying out. Our dancers will be doing a number of things including step, jazz and liturgical dance.”
Student performers say that the highlight of their show will be a lively dance to Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” a popular anthem of self-awareness and empowerment.
“The children will be fighting for their right to stand up and say ‘No’ to drugs,” Jones explained. “They will be fighting for their right to take a stand against bullying and to pledge to do their best in their class work.”
Kimberly Elliott, a fourth grader, said she is eager to perform for Gov. Deal and dance in the parade. “This is my first year on the dance team,” she said. “It’s something fun to do.”
Nevaeh Curtis, a returning dancer, agreed. She wasn’t surprised that Ivy Prep Kirkwood’s dance team was in demand on the state level. “Miss Jones has a successful dance company.”