In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

September 24, 2020

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • V Softball vs. Wesleyan: (today's game) rescheduled for 10/1
  • V Volleyball at Oconee HS: today @ 6 p.m.
  • MS Softball at Athens Christian: today @ 4:45 p.m.
  • PARC Virtual Speaker Event: Sept. 24 @ 6 p.m.
  • V Football Game @ Home: CANCELLED
  • Coffee with the Admin: Oct. 1 @ 8:15 a.m.
  • Senior Yearbook Page Deadline: Oct. 9
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Educators on a Mission

Inspiring lives of intellectual curiosity is central to who we are and what we do as a school, but we know that to inspire curiosity in others, we must first cultivate it in ourselves. At George Walton Academy, we believe that everyone is a learner and that fostering a growth mindset culture begins with us. With this in mind, our faculty and staff are focusing this year on their own growth and learning through participation in George Walton Teacher Academy (GWtA).

GWtA is designed to support faculty and staff in continuous efforts to improve our practice, grow professionally, explore new approaches to teaching and learning, and broaden our imagination of what education can be. Through regular workshops, ranging from assessment and feedback to global perspectives and backwards lesson design, among others, GWtA offers opportunities to think collectively about the way we are engaging students in their coursework and brainstorm new ideas and strategies to ultimately enhance student learning. Each month, faculty and staff explore a new, relevant topic and look for ways to infuse what they are learning into their practice. After only three workshops, we are already beginning to see the impact that these tweaks and shifts are having on the student experience. We are excited to continue this work as we believe that it is one of the most direct ways that we accomplish our mission to inspire lives of intellectual curiosity, integrity and purpose – for students and adults alike.

George Walton Academy is dedicated to expanding the scope and reach of its mission, and we know that this requires us to challenge assumptions, explore new possibilities, and take risks, all while remaining grounded in our common beliefs about teaching and learning. We believe that education should be relevant, engaging, and designed to equip each student to excel in college and beyond. We believe that learning is a lifelong process that continuously shapes us into better versions of ourselves. We believe that embracing a growth mindset means seeing ourselves as learners first. We believe that curiosity is not just something that we want to inspire in students, but something that we can model ourselves. We believe that community is built through collective imagination, collaboration, and action that moves everyone forward. And we believe that when we all do these things together, there is nothing that can stop us. It’s a great time to be a Bulldog!

-Jenny Duke, Amy Wilkes and Femke Côté

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Stay Safe, Bulldogs!

Please follow CDC guidelines to stay healthy, prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep students on campus. Remember to:

1) Wash your hands often

2) Avoid close contact

3) Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others

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Digging In

By Brian Cole

Associate Head of School, Fine Arts

Our Sustainable Living class might not be able to solve all of the world’s problems, but we are setting our sights on ending world hunger. Okay, that might be a lofty goal as well but as the students focus on sustainable farming techniques and begin construction on their new garden plots, there is hope that they will be more mindful consumers and better stewards of the environment. Utilizing locally sourced compost and manure and experimenting with different growing techniques, students are learning more about where their food comes from and how to produce higher yields from smaller footprints. Students are encouraged to take a more active role in providing food for themselves and others.

Providing access to produce and nutritional food is one of our goals for this course. The students are in the planning stages of several different programs to help our local community by providing nutritious food and plants to people in need.

We are still in the construction phase of our gardens and will soon be planting many of our cover crops for the winter months ahead. There is still much that can be done to get ready for the spring when we hope to fill our gardens with a variety of delicious edibles and introduce two new hives to our apiary.

Special thanks to Justin Brady for his help clearing out underbrush and prepping for our fencing and new apiary location. He was able to accomplish in a day with his equipment what would have taken us months to do by hand.

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Second Grade Globe-Trotters

By Tina Scott, Teacher

As part of our Social Studies curriculum, second grade is studying festivals around the world. We have a chosen a celebration from a different country for each month of the school year. With the help of our Global Studies teacher, Mrs. Garren, we made our own passports. We will add stamps to them every time we “visit” a country!

This month we learned about the Chinese Harvest Moon Festival. We celebrated this annual autumn event by making colorful Chinese lanterns, paper pandas and more. We were fortunate to have guest speaker and GWA parent, Vila Peck, who is from China, visit us on campus to experience the food shared by Chinese families during the festival. Students were treated to a sample of delicious dumplings and mooncakes!

Second graders also enjoyed learning about the country of China. They learned that China is in Asia, it’s the only place where panda bears live in the wild and they “explored” the Great Wall of China, the largest man-made structure in the world.

We have enjoyed our time “in China” and look forward to our next “trip” to Mexico in October where we will celebrate The Day of the Dead!

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Taking Temps

As our weather begins to cool, our GWA thermometers have the potential to read temperatures with varying levels of accuracy. These school readings should still only be a back-up to your daily checks at home. Please continue to monitor your child's temperature every day before school and keep them home if they are feverish or feeling ill.

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2020 Homecoming Plans

As you know, we are committed to providing as many opportunities for our students as possible this year, while being ever mindful of circumstances that are beyond any of our control. GWA traditions are an important part of campus life and the student experience and the next big event on the calendar is Homecoming (the week of Oct. 5). Discussions with the student council have resulted in the following plan:

  • Homecoming Week
    • Dress-up days - Oct. 5-9

      Monday: (MS & HS) Country vs. Country Club

      Tuesday: (MS & HS) Mathlete vs. Athlete

      Wed.: (All Grades) Holiday

      Thurs.: (ALL Grades) Group/Duo/Celebrity

      Friday: Spirit Day – all grades, HS below

      Seniors- Black

      Juniors- White

      Sophomores- Red

      Freshmen- Gray

    • Lower school will display homecoming banners on classroom doors.

  • Homecoming Game Day
    • The day will be mostly familiar, but a few things will be new or different.
      • We will begin the day with a parade featuring the band, homecoming court, cheerleaders, and football team. The parade will make its way through campus and end on the track. (We will not have floats in this year’s parade.)
      • The Powder Puff game will go on as scheduled and students in grades 9-12 will either participate or have the opportunity to watch from the stands.
      • As is the tradition, the high school students will be dismissed following the game.
      • Lower and middle school students will have classes in the morning with lower school dismissing at 11:30 and middle school at noon.

  • Homecoming Game
    • Vouchers to purchase a ticket to the game will be made available for every high school student. Those who are Dawgs 360 members will be admitted with no charge and those who are not Dawgs 360 members will be charged $8 for admission. Students without a voucher will not be admitted to the game.
    • The Homecoming Queen will be crowned at halftime as usual.

  • NEW
    • Following the game, the Homecoming King will be crowned at a bonfire behind the baseball field.

  • NOTE
    • There will not be a Homecoming Dance on Saturday. Instead, we will have a Fall Semi-Formal Dance on November 21. Details for this night will be announced closer to the date.

We can't wait to celebrate Homecoming 2020! Go Bulldogs!

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A Successful SAT Administration

By Lynn Robinson

Director of School Counseling

Yesterday most of the juniors and the seniors took the SAT. For many of the 143 students who tested, it was their first time to sit for this important college admissions test. As I monitored the students, who were leaning over their tables concentrating on the questions and bubbling in the answers, I couldn’t help but be proud of the work they were doing and be excited for what these scores would mean later. The students were taking one more step closer to college.

Also, I realized that these students were getting to do something “normal,” something juniors and seniors before them had done for decades. I was glad about that, and I couldn’t help but think about them one day talking to their own children about taking the SAT. I could hear them saying, “Yeah, but I took my SAT in the middle of the 2020 pandemic.” That made me smile.

Thank you to all the students who took the test yesterday and for working so hard on it!

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The Better Together campaign runs until October 5. Annual Loyalty Fund mailers should have been delivered to your mailbox. Pledges and gifts may be mailed in. Gifts may also be made online HERE. Thank you for your support of GWA.

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Varsity Softball Team is Hard to Beat

The Lady Dawgs are preparing to head into the area tournament and post-season play with an impressive 14-1 record! Caroline Conner and Taylor Tinsley are leading the way from the pitching circle, while Riley Wilson, Caroline Conner, Alana Griffith, and Reign Williams are keeping the bats alive on offense. Today's home game against Wesleyan has been rescheduled for Oct. 1, 4:45 p.m. at home. This is an important game and the team would love to have everyone come out (socially distant and masked)!

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Stellar Season

Our middle school softball team continues their winning streak with an 8-0 record. They defeated Carver Middle School 10-9 on Tuesday with a comeback in the final inning. Congratulations to Coach Walker and the middle school Lady Dawgs!
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Success on the Run

GWA runners enjoyed an excellent showing at Westminster! Ninth grader Sarah Kate Bailey and eighth grader Moneli Shekarbakht earned first place in varsity girls and middle school girls, respectively. The middle school girls team finished first overall while the varsity teams each finished second. Taylor Jesel, Kirby Lynn Atkinson, Annalise Digby and Autumn Koman were top finishers for middle school and Sara Bryan, Charlie Jesel, Emily Music, Joe Brown, Dominic Williams and Robby McGoldrick made the top ten for varsity. Congrats to all!

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Victory on the Road

The middle school football team gets a hard fought 28-26 win at Oglethorpe Co. Middle School last night! Go Bulldogs!
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In person youth basketball registration for boys/girls, grades 3 -7 will be Oct. 20 from 5-6 p.m. We will not take any forms or payment after this date! To pre-register, fill out the attached forms below and send them to Grace Martin (

  • Registration fee - $100
  • Jersey - $35

*We use the same jersey from year to year so they only have to purchase another one if they outgrew the one from last year. If they use the same one then they only have to pay the registration fee.

Checks need to be made out to GWA. (You can send them in to the front office with "Attention: Grace Martin" or bring them to the registration on Oct. 20.)

If your child is signing up to play, please consider volunteering to coach a team. We are in need of parent volunteers to coach basketball!

Permission to participate form

NEGFLL registration form

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Thank You, Parents!

A big "thank you" to all of the parent volunteers who help us organize special events, gather donations and recruit class volunteers within their grade or class throughout the school year. Your contributions make our community even better!

Lower School:

Tara Gill

Ashley Born

Crystal Owens

Nicole Manry & Dally East

Erin Meadows

Karen Mumford, Michele Bowen

Anna Harris & helpers Brittany Carter, Amanda Baker

Heather Knapp

Libby Ferguson

Middle School:

Ashley Inman and Jane Root

Vicky Peppers

Kerri Wright

Upper School:

Kelly Stone and Jeanie Collin

Darlene Miller, Logan Thornton

Kelly Jesel

Kelly Waldo, Staci Scornik, Stacy McCullers, Roxanne Misterka, Tonya Sheppard.

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Today's In Focus is proudly sponsored by Brysan Utilities Contractors, Inc. ( Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program? Contact Jeanie Beach at or call 678-635-3812.

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Please click HERE for a pdf version of the Quick Reference Guide.