In Focus @ GWA
A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy
Dear Bulldog Friends and Families,
I am filled with gratitude for our GWA community every day, but that is particularly true when I take a moment to reflect on what has come and gone, and what lies ahead. You’ve heard me say it before and it bears repeating: GWA is a special place. Our students, parents, teachers, and staff support and genuinely care for one another in countless ways each day. Our school grows stronger each year thanks to the individual efforts and contributions of each of our community members who share our vision and mission. I am full of anticipation of great things to come in 2021.
Never forget that, while these days can be some of the busiest and most stressful of the year, it’s also a season of joy, hope, and belief. On behalf of all the faculty and staff here at GWA, I wish you and your family a Merry (and safe) Christmas!
Claire Volk is Student of the Month
By Tricia Fissette
Writing Center Director
The fall semester brought new challenges to GWA. While we found ourselves socially distancing from one another, the students remained dedicated to achieving new levels of inquiry, regardless of the challenges before them. Our Dual Enrollment Composition students were no exception.
Last Wednesday, students from Dual Enrollment Composition and the Tutoring/Composition courses presented at GWA’s Second Annual Writing Conference. Welcoming faculty, students, and administrators, these student scholars showcased research centered on in-field problems and solutions.
The Tutoring/Composition students shared the unique problems they encountered when tutoring in the Writing Center while providing research-based solutions. Gracie Wood’s presentation illustrated the importance of creating a student-friendly environment in the Writing Center by sharing olfactory recommendations that could reduce stress. Alicia Shaw interviewed Science faculty as a means to develop bridges of collaboration between Science courses and writing. Finally, Isaiah Strong made recommendations to improve the attendance rates for students.
Meanwhile, the DE Composition students built a unique qualitative study on a wide array of topics. After a semester spent studying the writing process, composition genres, and the deeply integrated relationship between reading and writing, the students designed a case study based on a research question they wanted to explore more deeply. Sarah Kirk spent time observing classroom discussions to find out more about the differences between student and teacher discourse. While Sarah noticed that students tend to perform for teachers in classroom discussions, Madison Smith evaluated students’ various drafts to get a sense of students’ writing processes. With a greater emphasis on revision this year in DE Comp, she hoped to track learning expectations about the writing process throughout George Walton Academy’s program. Jalen Presha' interviewed students about their preferences for free or constrained writing assignments. Many of our discussions in class this year focused on authentic writing situations. His interviews examined student preferences for concrete guidelines in writing assignments. While just a small sample of the research was on display, all of the projects showcased a deep engagement with research. Finally, all of the students’ work culminated into a poster board style presentation during our conference.
As the students presented their research to administrators and faculty, they hoped to share recommendations that would improve learning in our ongoing project at GWA towards student excellence.
Mrs. Lovett's fifth-grade students built Christmas trees out of plastic cups as an engineering challenge in STEM class. They measured their structures and added decorations for some Christmas cheer.
A Way With Words
“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
GWA Gavel Club members are learning the art of public speaking. The club is affiliated with Toastmasters International and is open to all high school students. If the member completes a total of ten speeches by the end of their senior year, they are recognized as a “Competent Toastmaster.”
With every speech that has been carefully written (or written at the last minute!) and delivered, Gavel Club members are developing important skills that will serve them well in the years ahead. They become better writers and improve their ability to present their speeches clearly and effectively. Senior member Max Misterka said, “Being in Gavel these last four years has taught me to trust the process. By being able to improve my public speaking as well as build confidence in myself was demanding yet so rewarding.”
The club’s monthly meetings rotate speakers and members are assigned to various jobs to keep the evening running smoothly. The final meeting of the year is a chance for seniors to deliver their last speech before members, family, and faculty.
To learn more about Gavel Club and Toastmasters International, click HERE.
Violin Lessons Offered
Beyond the Bell will begin offering afterschool private lessons on campus with Liz Couch in January on Wednesdays and Fridays.
- 30 minutes - $36
- 45 minutes - $54
- 60 minutes - $60
- Violin rental will cost approximately $30/month (includes damage waiver).
Please contact Stacy May with any questions.
Order your yearbook now! We would like all yearbook orders in by the end of the year. You can bring a check made payable to GWA for $85 per book (put your child’s name on the check and indicate that it is for the yearbook!) OR you can order online through January 1 at yearbookordercenter.com (job number 14485 or choose to enter school name instead). Orders placed now will guarantee a book!
Linked HERE is a list of everyone who has bought a yearbook so far (as of 12/7/2020). If your name is not on this list, you haven’t yet purchased a book. If you have any questions, email yearbook advisor Liz Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Providing Christmas Cheer
While in-person shopping with our friends from the Walton County Boys and Girls Club was not possible this year, student council members were happy to purchase and deliver armloads of gifts to the organization! Additionally, NHS and Beta Club members provided stockings filled with Christmas goodies. Our student club members were able to provide holiday cheer for ten local families in need.
Thank you to all within the GWA community who have participated in the 2020-2021 Annual Loyalty Fund. Your support is important to the success of our school. If you have not yet participated, please click HERE to give online today.
When you support the Annual Loyalty Fund, you not only directly impact the opportunities available to our students but your participation gives GWA a competitive edge when applying for grants. The percentage of families who participate in our Annual Loyalty Fund is often a heavily considered factor in whether an organization honors grant requests. Your gift acts as your vote of confidence in the mission of GWA. Donating to GWA today impacts our students well into their futures. Thank you again for supporting GWA students today, tomorrow, and beyond.
Your gift to GWA is tax-deductible. In order to receive a tax receipt for 2020, gifts need to be postmarked or made online by December 31.
Wrapping Up the Year
By Lindsey Bailey
Lower School Counselor
What. A. Year. I must admit how relieved I feel to finally put 2020 behind us. It has been a difficult year filled with many challenges and disappointments. To help us wrap up the year, I challenge you and your family to take time to reflect. For this activity, you’ll need three pieces of paper per person (or one set as a family) and some markers or pens.
- Label one paper “The Good,” one paper “The Bad,” and one paper “The Future.”
- On “The Bad” list - Take time to write down all the “bad” things that happened in 2020, like the pandemic, school closures, social distancing, election ads, no ice cream social, and anything else that was a negative for you this year. It can be big things like the death of a loved one or small things like not being able to eat at your favorite restaurant. Be specific and list anything you want.
- Next turn your attention to “The Good” list. Write anything good that happened this year, such as spending extra family time, having a staycation, graduation parades, starting back to school, etc. This might take more thought, but once you get going I’m sure you can think of some positive things in 2020.
- “The Future” list is a place for you to write all the things you hope and dream will happen in 2021. Let your imagination go wild, but also try to list things that are realistic. Going to Mars is not likely to happen next year, but getting a COVID vaccine is a strong possibility.
When you’re done with all three lists, take a moment to compare and remember that you’ve lived through a LOT this year and that is something for which you should be proud. The final step is optional but, I think, most helpful: take “The Bad” list, tear it up and throw it away. This symbolizes that you are leaving all of the bad behind in 2020. Hold onto the other lists as reminders of the good that you want to remain and the future you hope to attain.
As unpredictable as these days are, I hope you take comfort in knowing that they will not last forever.
I wish your family the Merriest Christmas and Happiest New Year possible!
Sounds of the Season
Making a Splash
GWA Swim Dawgs placed 9th this past Saturday at Adairsville High School. This swim meet competition was one of the largest in the season with over 25 teams competing.
- George Walton’s combined team score was 159.5 taking 9th place.
- Boys team placed 10th earning 49 points
- Girls team placed 7th earning 110.5
Individual highlights include:
- Madison Taylor, 9th, placed 4th in the Girls 100yd Butterfly earning 16 pts. for the team.
- Anthony Pham, 7th, swimming exhibition would have 1st against the high school swimmers in the 500yd Freestyle.
- Emma Dopp, 9th, dropped time with a 1:19.06 in the 100yd Breaststroke
- Jackson Rutledge, 9th, continues to cut time on his 50 and 100yd Freestyle
Swimmers will continue to improve and cut time by practicing over Christmas break and have their next competition at Oconee Aquatics on January 8.
Middle School Sweeps LOA
Our boys and girls middle school basketball teams both get the win over Lake Oconee Academy this week! Way to go, Bulldogs!