Academy is state's first all-girls charter school

NORCROSS - The melodies of Frederic Chopin played as the sixth-graders finished eating breakfast.

The students were then asked to recite the school's four values - perseverance, responsibility, engagement and professionalism - before teachers split the scholars into groups named after the prestigious universities Princeton, Stanford, Oxford, Spelman, Brown and Harvard.

This is not your typical public school. It's Ivy Preparatory Academy, the state's first all-girls charter school.

"At first, I didn't want to come because I was wanted to go to a normal middle school with all my friends," student Carissa Love said. "But it's better because boys kind of distract you and always mess around in class."

At the end of her second week at the school, Love said she had made "a bunch of friends." She said she's already looking forward to a planned field trip at the end of the year.

Love said she also likes that she gets to take more subjects.

"I like all the teachers," she said. "All the teachers are really nice."

Nina Gilbert, the head of the school, said students take two math classes and two language arts classes each day. The school also offers connections classes such as German and global business, electives that aren't frequently offered at middle schools.

Samira Ansary, who attended Meadowcreek Elementary last year, said she thinks she's going to get a good education at the school.

"Ivy Prep is a very good school," Ansary said. "I think I'll learn a lot of things."

Ivy Prep's inaugural year began Aug. 4, and Gilbert said the school had "a really, really smooth start."

"I'm surprised at how few glitches we had," she said.

Classes are currently being held at Christ the King Lutheran Church on Peachtree Parkway in Norcross while the school's permanent space on nearby Engineering Drive is being prepared for students, Gilbert said.

Because Ivy Prep is a state, chartered special school, attendance is open to any sixth-grade girl in Georgia. About 140 students are enrolled at the school, Gilbert said.

Brianna Summers wakes up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to get to school on time. Her family lives in Clayton County, but she previously attended a private school in Gwinnett because her mother works in Norcross.

"It's a better opportunity to go to a better school," Summers said. "It's really good that anybody can come here."