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Ivy Prep Academy Scholars Back On Campus And Ready To Learn

Returning scholars at Ivy Preparatory Academy Network schools settled into the familiar routine of classes, homework, and planning for college as school resumed for upperclassmen last week.

Ivy Prep enrolls nearly 1,000 scholars in its Gwinnett and DeKalb county campuses. Enrollment has more than doubled among high school students this academic year as Ivy Prep’s high school, which offers an innovative blended curriculum of traditional and online instruction, was expanded to Kirkwood’s School for Girls and Ivy Prep’s Young Men’s Leadership Academy.

The Class of 2015 is scheduled to graduate on May 23. IPA’s first senior class has 11 scholars, including several students who have been at IPA since it opened during their sixth grade year. Seniors will receive individualized attention to help them stay on track for graduation and get accepted to the colleges of their choice.

“I think they are ready to go to college, but they know they have to get there first,” said Chelsea Henderson, a high school math teacher in Gwinnett who recently joined the staff. “This will be an exciting year for them.”

A back-to-school slumber party was held in Gwinnett to build school spirit and allow students to re-connect with friends.

Administrators on both campuses are seeking the aid of parents, community leaders, and business partners to help Ivy Prep host more activities for scholars and enhance academic and arts programs.

During a recent Lunch & Learn session, Mrs. Victoria Wiley, executive director of IPA Network, also enlisted the help of community partners from the YMCA; the Atlanta Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce; the Georgia Center for Opportunity; STEMchicks (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics); and Primerica, among others, to assist with enrollment outreach. Representatives of the business and community groups agreed to post IPA marketing and enrollment materials in their offices. Select grades on the Gwinnett and DeKalb county campuses of IPA still have room to accommodate additional students. If Gwinnett adds another 100 scholars to the roster, for example, the growth could bring another $1 million to the budget to educate scholars.

“No matter what your zip code or your background is, we want to bring you into our school and make your dreams come true,” Wiley said. “What we have to offer should have every single girl in Gwinnett County walking through our door.”

Ivy Prep offers scholars a single-gender environment with extended days, an extended year, and double doses of math and language arts classes to help scholars work toward mastering core subjects. IPA has an aggressive enrollment campaign to keep students in the pipeline. Word of mouth is one of the most successful strategies in recruiting new scholars. Administrators said one parent came to Ivy Prep this school year after learning about IPA in a conversation they had on an airplane. Others have found Ivy Prep online or been referred by family.

Last week, Wiley and a group of parents visited neighborhoods in North Gwinnett to spread the word about IPA. Administrators are seeking more volunteers to help with enrollment outreach. School officials said they would make themselves available to speak about IPA at community forums, special events, and sorority or fraternity meetings.

Michael Hill of the Atlanta Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce pledged his support to assist IPA with its special programs and enrollment efforts this school year. “I have a vested interest,” said Hill, who has a sixth grader at Ivy Prep who began classes on Aug. 4. “I like the culture and the accountability of Ivy Prep and the high expectations set for students. I’ve already seen growth and maturity in my daughter.”

Partnering with Ivy Prep can be mutually beneficial for businesses, organizations, and the school. Ivy Prep families can support community partners as volunteers and patrons. Business and community groups can utilize classroom space for meetings and have access to volunteers for their events. High school scholars are required to have 100 community service hours. Parents at IPA also are required to log 15 volunteer hours to support IPA programs.

“Ivy Prep is looking to become a resource for the community and to serve our neighbors,” Wiley said. “Even though we are a small school, we have a big heart.”

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