In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

August 23, 2018

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Your Full Circle Connection to GWA!

by Elizabeth McDonel, Director of Dawgs 360

As director of Dawgs 360, I would like to thank the over 200 of you who have already volunteered - and it's only August! Our goal is to support student life with parent volunteers through activities and our families definitely step up to the plate!

We have met our goal of having a meet and greet with all our lower school parents prior to tonight's Ice Cream Social. Our parent socials have been a huge success with over 150 parents on campus. It has been exciting to learn what is happening in the classroom and at GWA!

Our Ambassador Families are making real-life connections! Signs have been placed in yards, tours have been given, questions answered, playdates shared, and dinners at Dr. Dolan have been hosted. We are grateful to our current parents for helping to successfully guide our new parents in the GWA experience!

If you love ice cream, enjoy hanging out with kids and parents, and having a great time at a hometown pep rally, Dawgs 360 Ice Cream Social is the place to be!! The evening of fun and tradition starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Nicholson Center, with a pep rally following at 7:25 p.m. at Don Williams football stadium. Returning parents please bring your favorite ice cream to share with our new parents. Set up is at 6 p.m.

Mark your calendar for these upcoming Dawgs 360 events:

Parent Socials (all from 6-7 p.m. in the cafeteria)

Sept. 4: Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Grades

Sept. 6: Ninth and 10th Grades

Sept. 12: 11th and 12th Grades

"Why do middle school students act like that?"

Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium

Guest Speaker: Dr. Catherine Bagwell, Professor of Psychology

Tailgate Party

Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. at the GWA Alumni Pavillion

Join us for a season kickoff tailgate party with food and music before the big game!

Want to join Dawgs 360?

Sept. 30: Membership drive ends!

This is your passport to volunteering and supporting student life at GWA!

Dawgs Unleashed

Oct.15: Golf Tournament

Oct. 16: Tennis Tournament

Oct. 20: Fall Festival, Fun and 5K Run!

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Summer Reading Showcase

On Tuesday, August 21, the ninth grade Honors English students showcased their summer reading projects from one of the three required books: Speak, Feed, or American Born Chinese. Each student created a design of a tree, brain, or mask that highlights a prominent theme. “Art is a powerful tool that allows for various interpretations of literature. Not only do the students enjoy presenting their thoughtfully designed creations, but they gain insight from their peers’ projects. It never ceases to amaze and inspire me that although students read the same books, each crafted product is uniquely different,” shares Mrs. Steele, a ninth-grade teacher.

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Rave Reviews for Parent Socials

Dawgs360 parent socials continue to be a success! Please join us to hear about exciting things going on at George Walton Academy and reconnect with parents in your children's respective class.

Socials will be held in the cafeteria from 6 to 7 p.m. on the date assigned to your child's grade. Please, only parents at this event. If you did not receive your emailed invitation, please contact Elizabeth McDonel at See you there!

Sept. 4: Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Grades

Sept. 6: Ninth and 10th Grades

Sept. 12: 11th and 12th Grades

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Sharing GWA Love with the Boys and Girls Club

On Thursday, Aug. 16, GWA faculty, staff and students spent the afternoon at the Walton County Boys & Girls Club. The group played games with club members, mixed, mingled and assisted club staff with afternoon snack/dinner service. “It was a great opportunity for us to learn more about the club and the services they offer,” said GWA Admissions Director Cari Bailey. Bailey is also a Boys & Girls Club Board member and hopes that more GWA students and families will take the time to get involved at the club. This is just one of many events throughout the year when GWA partners with the Boys & Girls Club. Click HERE to learn more about the Boy and Girls Club.

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White Out Against the Warriors!

Join our Bulldogs as they take on Walnut Grove this Friday at the Warriors' home turf. Wear your best white out gear for the 7:30 p.m. kick-off. Go Dawgs!
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Varsity Volleyball Rises to the Challenge

GWA varsity volleyball finished third in the Athens Invitational. The teams only losses were to the undefeated 6AAAAAA Apalachee High School and Athens Academy. Our girls fought hard all day and can't wait for a rematch next week against Athens Academy!
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Middle School Cross Country Girls Start Season Strong

Middle school girls cross country captured first place at LCA this past weekend out of 22 teams. The middle school boys finished fourth, varsity boys third, and varsity girls fifth.

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Majorettes Make Their Mark

The GWA Majorettes are not only well known in the state of Georgia, but around the southeast and nationally.

They are consistently recognized as one of the best twirling groups at any competition they attend. They are the National Baton Twirling Association (N.B.T.A.) Georgia State Middle School Team Champions, and many of the members hold state, southeast regional, and now NATIONAL twirling titles!

In July, they made their debut on the national stage as they competed in the National Twirling Competition with thousands of competitors of all ages. This week-long event was held at The University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Indiana. Individually, six ladies brought home 22 top 10 placements, 12 top five placements, and two first-place awards in their respective events and age groups. (Blakeney Sewell-first place in three baton, Taylor Grossman-first place in Show Twirl, Catherine Atkinson, who represented the state of Georgia in Beginner Miss Majorette of America, placed eighth overall).

These ladies also competed on the Premier Twirling Team, making up six of the eight members. They placed ninth in the Junior Halftime category and placed a very impressive fifth in the Advanced Preteen Dance Twirl category. Two Top 10 finishes for their first time on the national level is simply outstanding!

Members include: Catherine Atkinson, MaKayla Briscoe, Morgan Green, Taylor Grossman, Blakeney Sewell, Payton Stone. We are so proud of them and look forward to their performances at the upcoming football games!

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7v7 Lacrosse Registration Open NOW for Fall 2018

It's one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, and once you attend your first game, it's easy to see why! Described as the fastest ball game on two feet, lacrosse builds endurance, speed, and agility, plus its fun!

GWA now has an opportunity for players who have never played to try lacrosse in the off season. Experienced players will work on their skills with plenty of time for both offense and defense development on a shorter field.

Players will receive a reversible pinnie and will provide their own black athletic shorts, socks, cleats, safety equipment and stick. Equipment rentals are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Equipment page here:

Games will be played in and around Gwinnett County on Sundays.

The season runs Sept. 9-Oct. 28 with practices starting the week of Sept. 3. Practices will be held one night per week at Bay Creek Park. Learn even more by clicking here.

The registration fee is $125. Register by Aug. 31
at the following link:

Contact Coach Katie Downey with any additional questions at 678-725-1015.

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Show Your GWA Spirit!

We couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming year and the awesome events that contribute to GWA Bulldog life! Show your support for our varsity football team by attending the first game of the season at Walnut Grove on Friday, Aug. 24 at 7:30 p.m. This game will be a white-out and t-shirts will be available in the Dawg Shop and at the Ice Cream Social for $12 (youth & adult sizes).

Our Homecoming Week game will be a black-out against Towns County on Friday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. The black-out t-shirt design includes the homecoming theme - the Mexican holiday “Day of the Dead” or “Día de los Muertos.” Please use the link provided (found on the Dawg Shop web page) to purchase homecoming tees as they will not be available in the Dawg Shop. The cost is $12 in youth and adult sizes, and the deadline to order is Sunday, Aug. 26 by midnight. T-shirts will be delivered to the Dawg Shop for pick up on Monday, Sept. 10.

Support your Bulldogs and show your GWA spirit! Go Bulldogs!

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Pointed Toes and Pliés

The new dance program is in full swing! Our dancers have been busy exploring elements of ballet, jazz, musical theatre, contemporary dance and hip hop techniques.

Coming Nov. 30, family and friends will be invited to watch as our students show off their hard work in the Winter Dance Showcase. In addition to performing dance pieces from various genres, the dancers will show off their character dance skills with a zombie inspired ‘ballet,’ Danse Macabre. The ballet will explore Halloween and Christmas themes, resulting in a “Nightmare Before Christmas” type of dance narrative. You won't want to miss it! More information to follow.

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Alumnus Wins DCI World Championship

Congratulations to Curtis Reep on his recent Drum Corps International win! Reep competed with the Santa Clara Vanguard this summer. They secured a score of 98.625 at the championship on August 11, winning them the title of the 2018 world champions.

Alumni Jason Dokes (’17), Justin Cohen (’15) and Murphy Pullium (’15) all placed in the top five with their respective corps.

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Moving On

Michael Clancy, Director of College Counseling

Many of the members of the Class of 2018 have packed their bags and moved into apartments and dormitories in Athens, Milledgeville and New York, among other college destinations. But that journey didn’t start last week. In many ways, it started several years ago. Our current seniors, the Class of 2019, are settling into their courses, meeting their first graders, and starting the process of applying to colleges. One of which, they will call “home” this time next year!

During this journey, the college counselor serves as advisor and matchmaker. We strive, as much as possible, to create opportunities for our students and parents to consult with admissions directors and other experts directly.

Last week, George Walton hosted its first college visit when a representative from Middle Tennessee State University stopped by campus. Next Tuesday, a representative from the University of North Georgia will be in the upper school media center to meet with students during morning break. At 7 p.m. that same day, GWA will host Brenda Vaughan from GA Futures, who will speak to seniors and their parents about the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships. She will also discuss other ways GA Futures can help students in the college admissions process.

On Friday, Aug. 31, a representative from UGA will meet with juniors and seniors during the upper school Flex Block. UGA is a popular destination for George Walton students. In fact, when their admissions representative visited in 2017, the session was held in the media center during morning break and it was standing room only with many students standing between the bookshelves. With a group that large, 20 minutes wasn’t enough. This year, we will take advantage of the schedule changes and host UGA in the auditorium during a Flex Block.

During the same Flex Block, freshmen and sophomores will begin a YouScience assessment. YouScience is a series of “Brain Games” designed to measure students’ aptitudes. This, along with surveys to measure interests, provides career path suggestions for students.

There will be several additional colleges visiting GWA in September and October (see the list of Upcoming University Visits below). These visits are not just for seniors. Our juniors, sophomores and freshmen benefit from attending these presentations, especially those offered by institutions that the student has never heard of before. Listening to these presentations are non-committal and the student is under no obligation. They are designed to simply introduce students to the language of college admissions, which will make applying to college less daunting when the time comes.

Recent alumni who are unpacking their bags in places such as Statesboro, Tuscaloosa and Atlanta have not reached their final destination. College is merely a stop along the journey of life and GWA’s counseling department is here to help along the way.

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Tuesday, Aug. 28

GA Futures College Information Session

7 p.m.


This meeting is for seniors and/or their parents and will include information on the elements of a college application, how to use the GA Futures website and GSFAPPS, along with how to apply for Hope, Zell Miller, and other scholarships.

Friday, Aug. 31

How to be a BIG DAWG!

11:55 a.m. to 12:55 p.m. (Flex Block)

A representative from UGA will present to juniors and seniors who pre-register for the event. Parents are welcome to drop in without pre-registering. Please note that seating may be limited.

Upcoming University Visits

Open to ALL upper schools students. Parents are also welcome to drop in.

Aug. 31*: University of Georgia during the Flex Block in the Auditorium

Sept. 5: University of North Georgia during break in the Upper School Media Center

Sept. 6: Agnes Scott College during break in the Upper School Media Center

Sept. 11: Columbus State University during break in the Upper School Media Center

Sept. 12: Mercer University during break in the Upper School Media Center

Sept. 19: Oglethorpe University during lunch in the Cafeteria

Sept. 20**: Walton County Probe Fair

Sept. 24: Emory University during break in the Upper School Media Center

Oct. 2: Florida Polytechnic University during lunch in the Cafeteria

Oct. 12: Furman University during break in the Upper School Media Center

Oct. 12: Mary Baldwin University VA during break in the Upper School Media Center

Oct. 16: Auburn University during break in the Upper School Media Center

Oct. 16: Wesleyan College during break in the Upper School Media Center

Oct. 25: Augusta State University during break in the Upper School Media Center

*Space is limited. For the first 90 juniors and seniors who register. Freshmen and sophomores will take YouScience assessments at this time. A registration form will go out on Friday.

**Mandatory for all juniors. Space available for up to 40 seniors. Not open to freshmen and sophomores. A registration form will go out on Friday.

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Today's In Focus is Sponsored by Minerva Beauty

Click HERE to learn more about Minerva Beauty. Want to find out how to become a Corporate Partner? Contact Jeanie Beach at or 678-635-3812.