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Ivy Preparatory Academy Gwinnett hosted the Atlanta Dream for a special visit Wednesday. Players with the professional WNBA team signed autographs and talked to scholars about the importance of healthy lifestyles.

Latisha Hanna, an official with the Atlanta Dream’s business office, introduced two new players to scholars- Rachel Hollivay, a graduate of Rutgers University and center for the Dream, and shooting guard, Meighan Simmons, a graduate of the University of Tennessee. Dream forward, Cierra Burdick, another University of Tennessee graduate, also represented the team. Burdick is in her second year with the Dream.

The WNBA is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The Dream is honoring its ninth year with a focus on nutrition and fitness. As part of their outreach, players are encouraging students across metro Atlanta to exercise. They spoke to more than 200 scholars at Ivy Prep.

“We wanted to let you guys know how important it is to stay fit,” Hanna told scholars Wednesday. “The Dream get to travel the world and do something that they love, and they stay healthy while doing it.”

Scholars in grades 6-8 took turns performing basketball skills drills. They jumped rope, dribbled the basketball through cones, and practiced foot work.

“They are having so much fun that they don’t know they are also exercising,” said LaShunda Hawkins, assistant principal at Ivy Prep Gwinnett.

Principal Chaz Patterson said that scholars were very eager to meet the Atlanta Dream players.

Sixth grader Kedijah Ahmed asked the Dream players to autograph her violin. “I just started to play violin, and this summer I want to play basketball,” she said. “This will give me support for both of them.”

Patterson said that the Atlanta Dream are “role models” for the scholars of Ivy Prep Academy.

“We are honored to have professional athletes from the Atlanta Dream visit with our scholars at Ivy Prep Gwinnett,” Patterson said. “It takes hard work, determination, and perseverance to become a professional athlete. We ask that our scholars display the same attributes in the classroom.”

IPA Gwinnett is currently enrolling new scholars for the 2016-17 school year. The free, single-gender charter school of more than 220 scholars is expected to add another 90 students after this year’s eighth graders transition to their high schools of choice.

IPA Gwinnett challenges students with a college preparatory curriculum that includes daily double doses of language arts and math classes, and an accelerated program for advanced learners. The school offers extended days of learning and an extended calendar year. To schedule a tour, call the school at 770-342-0089.

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