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Norcross High School’s Blue Devil cheerleaders partnered with Team Ivy Cheer recently to host a skills camp for girls interested in trying out for spirit squads in the fall.

The camp was held for a week at IPA Gwinnett for new and returning scholars. Six Norcross High cheerleaders, including rising freshman Makiya Reid, an alumna of Ivy Prep Gwinnett, volunteered as coaches for the summer training camp. The high school cheerleaders helped Ivy Prep students learn chants, spirit dances, cheers, and basic stunts.

“The Blue Devils are assisting Ivy Prep for our first year of camp,” said Ivy Prep Gwinnett Cheer Coach Nichole Wysinger, a substitute teacher who is earning her certification in science education. “We are happy to have Makiya among them. She is one of our Ivy Prep girls who transitioned to Norcross High.”

The other Blue Devils volunteers were cheerleaders Quinnci Thomas, Christiane Massey, and Taylor Imolode, all rising juniors at Norcross High; and rising freshmen Jada Simmons and Venae Glover.

Ten IPA middle school cheer candidates signed up for the camp. Many of the girls had no prior experience in cheering. The campers learned the fundamentals of cheering to help prepare them for tryouts in September. Last year, there were 15 cheerleaders on Team Ivy Gwinnett’s squad. Several of those girls continued cheering competitively in outside programs throughout the school year.

“For many years, I never wanted to be a cheerleader because I thought it was one of the most boring things,” said Ysa Lutchman, a rising seventh grader at IPA Gwinnett who attended the camp. “Now, I want to give it a chance. It’s like a new challenge for me.”

Lutchman bonded with other first-time cheerleaders Arissa Maxwell, Victoria McDonald, Gabrielle Sampson, and Mikiah McQueen as they practiced jumps and chants again and again. Their high school “sisters” watched closely and took time to help each camper perfect the moves.

“It’s fun,” McQueen said.

Maxwell agreed. “I like to try new things.”

IPA students with cheer experience also helped fellow campers polish new moves. Rising seventh grader Summer Wysinger, who cheered for Ivy Prep last year, and Nadia Burton, a rising eighth grader, said they enjoyed working with the Blue Devil’s squad and learning high school cheers.

IPA cheer coach Wysinger said the campers “made a lot of progress” a short time. “It has been a tremendous experience for the girls,” she said. “They have learned to tumble and stunt. Thank God for the Blue Devils!”

The partnership with the Blue Devils was forged with the help of former Ivy Prep student, Makiya Reid. “She told me that she would introduce me to her coach,” said Wysinger. The Gwinnett cheer coach followed up after the introduction and asked the Norcross High cheer coach for assistance with summer camp.

“She texted me and said asked, ‘What I needed?’ She came through with sixth girls. I really appreciate her help and support.”

Reid said she was honored to return to Ivy Prep to help lead camp.

“They are doing really well,” Reid said of the campers. She hopes that they will come to enjoy cheering as much as she does.

“For me, cheering helps me to do better in school,” she said. “It pushes me to get great grades because it is something that I want to do. I have to have good grades to cheer. I want to get a cheer scholarship.”

Cheering also helps students to gain confidence in themselves because it pushes them out of their comfort zone as leaders.

“If they are shy, by the end of the season they won’t be shy anymore,” Wysinger said. “In our program, they learn morals and values that help them to respect themselves and others. They become leaders in the classroom and in their communities. They carry those lessons throughout their everyday life.”

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