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(Memphis) At the Memphis Grizzlies Preparatory Academy, kids speak when they’re called on and students snap to show they’re listening.

“They have a call and response that they practice at home,” said Elizabeth Simpson, the school’s director. “I say ‘why are you here?’ and they say ‘I am here to learn’ and I say ‘what will you do?’ and they say ‘make sure it mattered that I was here’.”

All seats are assigned at Memphis Grizzlies Prep, even in the lunch room.

It’s an outward sign of the inward commitment the 75 sixth grade boys are making. 

Simpson says the goal is for 100 percent of them to become college-ready.

Simpson said It takes academics and discipline to get there, “We have double blocks of math, double blocks of literacy and we have an extended school day.”

The public school is partly funded by the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation, so the students,  known as ‘scholars’, earn “buckets” for good behavior and “turnovers” when their behavior can be improved.

“To make sure we can help all of our students become successful,” said Simpson.

And that is ultimate goal: life-long success.

Starting on this first day of school.

The school is looking for volunteers who can come at lunch time and talk about their profession with the students or come on Tuesday evenings to lead a reading group.

If you would like to help out, call 474-0955 or email