In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

February 25, 2021

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • Clothing Drive Donation Deadline: TOMORROW
  • Softball Meeting: TOMORROW (see below)
  • Re-enrollment Contracts Due: March 1
  • Coffee with the Admin: March 4 @ 8:15 a.m.
  • Walk-in Wednesday: March 10 (see details below)
  • Book Drive Donation Deadline: extended to March 10
  • March Break: March 11 &12
  • Grandparents Day (Virtual): March 19/regular school day for all
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I Beg Your Garden?

A mulch-anticipated expansion to our outdoor classroom is soon to become a reality and I can’t herb my enthusiasm. Pardon my puns, but we are really excited to be able to advance the STEAM initiatives for our students and I hope my enthusiasm is apparent! Our Sustainable Living class has been busy planning and constructing our new garden area all year and is now looking forward to the addition of a greenhouse. Fundraising has begun to finance this ambitious endeavor and we are well on our way to making this dream a reality. This is not your average plastic hoop house; we are looking to install a 25’x50’ state of the art facility that will benefit our entire school and community.


I have been asked, “Why does the school need to spend money on a greenhouse?” The answer is simple, if it is utilized properly, it is a facility where all disciplines coalesce and provide students an opportunity to see their lessons quite literally come to life.


It is easy to see how our science courses will be able to utilize the space. Biology and the environmental sciences will be able to study the anatomy of plants, see photosynthesis in action, and study how plants react to light, heat, and soil variables. There are opportunities to experiment with cross pollination and genetics within the controlled environment of a greenhouse.


Sustainability concepts can be taught by the utilization of hydroponic and vertical gardening where the harvest isn’t cut short by the cold of winter. As our outdoor garden rests during the winter months, the greenhouse will continue to provide produce for our students and community. In April, we will also be constructing a new apiary consisting of two new beehives. Our students will develop a business plan for the Academy Bee Company and will be responsible for the maintenance, harvest, and marketing of the honey produced by our bees.


How do you include a math curriculum into a greenhouse environment? Students learn when they are engaged and math can be taught in an interactive greenhouse by collecting data, graphing, and calculating the efficiency of different planting systems. Business courses along with economics help students develop an entrepreneurial plan to market the produce. Selling their produce also teaches students important lessons about cost management as well as marketing skills as they learn to promote their products. This also helps to make our program self-sufficient.


The greenhouse will also be an amazing opportunity for the engineering and robotics classes to design automation systems for climate control, irrigation, and even planting.


The art department will benefit from a visual resource that the plantings will provide for any number of projects. Photography, visual journaling, and direct observation are only a few of the possibilities.


As I list these course possibilities individually, I fully expect to see a merger of these disciplines into a more inclusive curriculum that combines the best of each of them into a more hands-on experience. I am challenging teachers to collaborate and find ways to include this facility into their own curriculum and develop new courses all together that meet the needs of our students and provide them with enriching real-world experiences. This facility will be available for use from K3-12th grade with unlimited possibilities for enriching the academic experience.


I just want to end by saying a sincere thank you from my head “tomatoes” to everyone who has supported this new endeavor.


Brian Cole

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Claire McNulty Named STAR Student

George Walton Academy is pleased to announce senior Claire McNulty has been named the school’s 2021 PAGE STAR Student. To qualify as STAR Student a senior must have the highest score on a single SAT test date and be in the top ten percent of their class based on the grade point average. Claire has selected English teacher and humanities department chair Peter VanWyk as her STAR Teacher. Both Claire and Mr. VanWyk will be honored at a banquet sponsored by the Walton County Chamber of Commerce in May. Congratulations to Claire and Mr. VanWyk!

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Julie Cato is Student of the Month

Julie Cato has been chosen as Rotary Student of the Month for January. She has chosen Rachel Jackson as Teacher of the Month. Julie is an AP Scholar with Honor and has been awarded GWA Best of the Best for the past three years. She is president of Beta Club, a member of National Honor Society, and Interact Club, and serves as student council executive vice president. Julie has participated in GWA color guard and varsity soccer throughout high school – receiving District Honor Band and All-Region (soccer) recognition. She has served her community at the public library and through club service projects. Julie plans to major in biology at Georgia Tech in the fall. Congratulations to Julie and Mrs. Jackson!
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Brooks Dokes is Student of the Month

Brooks Dokes is the Rotary Student of the Month for February. He has chosen Jessie Croft as Teacher of the Month. Brooks is a Furman Scholar and has earned GWA Best of the Best for three consecutive years. He is a member of National Honor Society, Beta Club, Model U.N. and Literary Quartet. Brooks is a member of the GWA Marching Band, has served in band leadership roles throughout high school and earned All-State and District Band honors for the past three years. He has played with the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony since 2017. Brooks plans to attend the University of Georgia to study computer science. Congratulations to Brooks and Mrs. Croft!
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Jumping into Physics

In Mrs. Schlumper’s eighth-grade Physical Science classes, students have been exploring the world of physics. To further their studies on speed and acceleration, classes conducted a lab in which they performed different movement mechanisms, such as jumping, walking backwards, and hopping on one leg. They collected data and used it to calculate their speed based on time taken for different distances traveled. This lab leads into their next unit working Newton’s Laws and analyzing the famous “egg” cars.

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Learning About Jacob Lawrence

Lower school art students are learning about American painter Jacob Lawrence- known for his abstract and colorful works and his important contributions to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s. The movement showcased achievement in the African American culture in music, literature and fine art. Mrs. Dyer’s students have also enjoyed listening and learning about Jazz and the music of the roaring 20’s.

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Jani Signs with UCF

Ryan Jani has signed to play soccer and continue his studies at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He plans to major in finance. Congratulations and all the best, Ryan!

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Dagenhart Signs with LaGrange College

Congratulations to Michael Dagenhart on today’s signing to play football at LaGrange College. He plans to major in sports management. We wish you all the best on the field and in the classroom!

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Lady Dawgs Wrap Up Season

The varsity girls basketball team ends their season with a trip to round one of the GHSA State Playoffs and a loss to Hebron Christian. Head Coach Lori Hines commented, "For a very young team I am very proud of how hard they all worked this season and knowing that they were going to play a college team last (Tuesday) night. All nine seniors on Hebron’s team have signed to play in college next year, but our girls played hard and never quit!" Congratulations to the Lady Dawgs on a hard-fought season and congrats to senior Marnie Couch on being named All-Region Honorable Mention!

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Great Strides for Boys Basketball

The varsity boys faced a top- ranked Providence Christian team last night in round one of the state playoffs. Head Coach Matt Reynolds said, "We finished our season with a trip to the GHSA State Playoffs following a Region 8-A runner up finish. Our guys qualified for the state playoffs for the first time since 2011 and made great strides throughout the year. As a young group, we learned to compete and win and I couldn’t be any more proud of the accomplishments of this group." Congrats to the players and coaches on a great season.

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Equestrian Team Wins Reserve Champion

The GWA equestrian (high school) team won reserve champion at last weekend's Region Final. Middle school riders earn 4th place in their division. Sarah Blackstone and Hailey Wudtke will be advancing to Zone Finals March 20-21 in Tryon, NC. Congrats to all and good luck, Sarah and Hailey!
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Varsity Baseball Goes 3-1

By Coach Todd Shelnutt


The GWA varsity baseball team has been working hard and started the season 3-1. We are relying on our seniors - Jake Whitten, Will Bailey, Daniel Harkins, Michael Dagenhart, and Adam Head to help lead a young team this year. We played three very close games this week with our pitchers Jake Whitten, Will Bailey, and Aiden Rainey pitching well and earning the team wins. We have a busy weekend schedule as we are hosting Kings Ridge today at 4 p.m. and if the weather cooperates we will host Pinecrest and ELCA on Saturday for a Diamond Day - GWA vs. ELCA at 1 p.m., ELCA vs. Pinecrest at 3 p.m. and GWA vs. Pinecrest at 7 p.m. Come out to cheer on the Dawgs!

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Calling All Cheerleaders!

GWA cheer tryouts (for rising 6th-12th graders) will be March 29 - April 1 after school and run until 4:30 p.m. There will be an informative parent meeting at 6 p.m. on March 16 in the auditorium to answer any questions related to tryouts or the upcoming season's plans.


Youth cheer will have sign ups and uniform fittings on March 24 at 6 p.m. and March 31 at 3 p.m. in the Nicholson Center concession area. Please contact Grace Martin with questions.

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Soccer Success

The GWA boys varsity soccer team is 4-1 on the season with recent victories over Athens Christian and Monroe Area with hat tricks by Sully Croker and Robby McGoldrick in the ACS game. Congrats, Bulldogs!
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Click HERE for athletic events on the GWA February calendar.
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Help Us Spread the Word

Let your friends and neighbors know about our upcoming admissions event, Walk-in Wednesday on March 10. Prospective families can drop in from 9 - 11 a.m. for a quick visit or RSVP (email lpierre@gwa.com) for a more in-depth look at GWA that is focused on their student's grade level and interests.
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Probe Virtual College Tour

Monday, March 8 & Tuesday, March 9

Sessions starting at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., & 7 p.m.


Student registration for the Spring 2021 Virtual Probe College Tour is now open. The tour will be held entirely online on Monday, March 8 and Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Sessions begin nightly at 5 p.m. EST.


Georgia high school students and parents may register to attend at RegisterProbe.com. There is no charge to attend; however, pre-registration is required.


One hundred eighty colleges and universities are scheduled to participate in the tour - Penn State University, Clemson University, Ohio, Syracuse, Virginia Military Institute, Georgia College, Purdue, Liberty, University of Florida, University of Tennessee, Auburn University, University of Georgia, Florida State, Spelman College, Texas A&M University, and University of Michigan just to name a few! Sessions are 45 minutes in length and will feature up to 6 colleges making short presentations. Students will be able to ask questions via online chat using Zoom webinar software.


The Spring Probe Tour is an excellent opportunity for high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to get a jump start on college exploration.


Sessions will be offered each evening at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time.


A separate registration is required for each session. Registrants will receive a confirmation email with the specific hyperlink for the selected session.

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Click HERE for more information about Dawgs Unleashed - including event registration and some AMAZING volunteer opportunities! The registration fee for the 5K and Fun Run is $20, but the price increases to $25 after Feb. 26.
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Donate by Friday

Members of the GWA Interact Club say, “thank you!” to our Bulldog community for their overwhelming support of the winter clothing drive for Atlanta’s homeless. Over 500 items have been donated so far. To contribute - drop off your gently used items (coats, rain jackets, sweaters, pants, socks, gloves, beanies, blankets) in Mr. Reagan's room in the Fine Arts building, at a designated "Winter Clothing Drive" box located around the main building and in the Lower School library. The last day to donate is Friday, Feb. 26.
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Book Drive Extended to March 10

Help our students in NHS, Beta Club and Interact Club provide books for children in the Athens area through their school wide “For the Love of Books” collection drive in partnership with the non-profit Books for Keeps. For each gently used book donated – students can send a free candygram to a friend. Collection boxes are located throughout campus – in lower school classrooms, in Mrs. Byrd’s room, Mrs. Croker’s room and in the Commons. The deadline to donate is March 10. Let’s support our students’ efforts and help them provide books for local under-resourced children.
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Today's In Focus is proudly sponsored by Preston & Malcom Attorneys at Law (www.prestonmalcom.com). Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program? Contact Jeanie Beach at jbeach@gwa.com or call 678-635-3812.
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