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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.”

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