In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

March 18, 2021

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • MS College Counselor Chat: TONIGHT @ 6 p.m./cafeteria
  • Grandparents Day (Virtual): March 19/regular school day for all
  • Dawgs Unleashed 5K/Fun Run: March 20
  • Dawgs Unleashed Golf Tournament: March 22
  • Dawgs Unleashed Tennis Tournament: March 23
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New Opportunities

Have you seen all the new courses we are offering next year? The faculty are proud to announce the arrival of 21 new courses for the 2021-2022 school year that will allow students to delve deeper into their passions or find new areas of interest. We are always interested in finding new and exciting courses that allow students to tailor their education in a way that sets them up for success both during their time on campus and at the next level. Whether they want to try their hand at architecture through Drafting & Design or learn the ins and outs of how to run a business through Business & Marketing, there is a new course for every student.

Our performing arts students will have their choice of three new dramatic performance courses, as well as new offerings in piano and guitar. Students not wishing to be performers can sign up for Intro to Film Production or Sculpture & Set Design to show off their skills from behind the scenes - there is something for everyone. For students interested in logo design, branding package design and magazine layout design, we are offering our Graphic Design Fundamentals class where students will be introduced to Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign - all platforms used by industry professionals and a great advantage for any students looking to get into branding and marketing in the future.

We are expanding our Bible course options by offering classes in the Old and New Testament to give students a chance to look at the complete text from start to finish. Our new electives in Social Studies include Examining Capitalism, Freedom and the Law, and Financial Literacy. These courses will prepare students to make better decisions as they enter adulthood, both as informed citizens and money smart budgeters. We are even offering a course on the Science of Happiness focusing on how we can create better habits to increase our overall happiness, not to mention the other new science courses that students can take to earn their science credits.

No matter what you are interested in or see yourself doing in the future, I feel confident that students can find a new course that interests them. I encourage students to look closely at each of our course offerings this week, new or not, to see what fits their interests and abilities and make decisions that will challenge and help them grow over the next year. Happy course shopping!

Femke Côté

Click HERE for complete list of new course offerings.

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Wishes Granted

Lower school students are now able to enjoy an enhanced STEM experience thanks to new equipment purchased from funds from the Walton Electric Trust, Inc.’s School Empowerment Grant. We now have updated equipment and supplies that will provide a foundational platform for years to come for the George Walton Academy Lower School STEM program. K'nex kits for fifth grade that focus on simple machines, construction straws for K5 and first grade that focus on building and design challenges along with microscopes appropriate for all elementary age students were added. Funds were also used to purchase electronic kits and games to encourage critical thinking, and STEM challenges that incorporate real world applications.

“I have been able to see students excited and willing to take on challenges that may be new or hard, and not give up,” said STEM teacher Janet Bishop. “In fifth grade many students are using K'nex for the first time and staying engaged and working together in groups. No one sits on the sidelines. In Kindergarten, students are now using age appropriate microscopes and many declare that they are now scientists because they were using the tools of a scientist. Students have also made connections from STEM class into their other academic classes that would not have been possible without this grant.”

George Walton Academy wishes to express our appreciation to The Walton Electric Trust for this opportunity to enhance the academic experience for our students.

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Introducing The Bulldog Bite

The Bulldog Bite – GWA’s new student run literary magazine is in the works! This collaborative effort will give students a means to showcase their creativity through poetry, essays, short stories and art. The digital magazine will be introduced later in the semester with plans for more editions in the 2021-22 school year.

The editors are encouraging fellow students to submit their works now (email to with an added incentive – any submissions received by April 1 will be entered into a raffle for a $10 gift card.

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Growing Success

By Brian Cole

Our experiments with hydroponics in Sustainable Living continue as we get ready to harvest our first crop of arugula. This is some of the most flavorful and peppery Arugula we have ever tasted. This prompted a discussion on just how long it takes to get the store-bought varieties from farm to table and how much flavor is lost in the process. Some of our plants are utilizing the hydroponic system as an incubator before being transplanted in our garden area. Tomato and strawberry plants are germinating and growing now. They will be ready to transplanted by the middle of April.

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Congratulations to our GWA band members who have received Georgia All-State Band acceptances- (pictured left to right) Isaac Osei, Philip Mashburn, Mike Pulliam, Brooks Dokes, Eli Scornik, Gracie Wood, Nicole Volk, Blakeney Sewell (1st alternate), and Alex Carrillo.

Kudos to seniors Eli Scornik and Brooks Dokes – Eli has made All-State Band every year since sixth grade and Brooks has qualified every year since seventh grade.

Congrats to these young musicians on their amazing accomplishments! Their hard work and dedication has paid off and we are proud to have them represent GWA and the band.

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Mark Your Calendar

The GWA Dance program will present its annual Spring Showcase, “Dancing through Space...Out of this World!” on Thursday, May 6 at 4 & 7 p.m. in the Lower School Gym.

The outer space themed concert will feature dancers of all ages and levels performing a variety of genres including hip-hop, jazz, lyrical, acrobatics and ballet. There will even be a Star Wars themed segment that will spotlight some light saber combat choreography! You don’t want to miss it!

Admission is free and open to the public. Masks and social distancing will be required.

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Ready for Race Day!

Race Day is almost here! Saturday’s Fun Run is on campus and begins at 8 a.m. The 5K starts at 8:30 a.m. on campus and finishes in downtown Monroe. Shuttles will be provided.

Dawgs Unleashed (pre-registered) runners may pick up their bibs on Friday, March 19, 12 – 4 p.m. at the Dawgs 360 office. Race Day pick up & registration is Saturday, 7:30 a.m. – 8:20 a.m. at the Nicholson Center.

Kona Ice will be on campus to serve all families and friends following the Fun Run and 5K!

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It's Not Too Late!

Dawgs 360 is in search of volunteers for the upcoming golf and tennis events. Please click HERE to access the Sign Up Genius link. A few spots are open for those interested in playing in the golf tournament on Monday. Please email Elizabeth McDonel for details. Hope to see you next week!
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New Role For Matt Reynolds

Vision, positive relationships, and a commitment to player development are key components to a strong athletic program. Under the leadership of our Athletic Director, Mark Whitley, GWA has built a program that provides a positive athletic experience that enables each player to reach his or her full potential.

As we look to build upon the success of our program in 2021-2022, we will expand the communication and support functions of the athletic department as Matt Reynolds transitions to a new role as Associate Athletic Director for Operations.

“Matt is always looking for ways to help GWA improve," said Head of School Dan Dolan, "He is a tremendous asset wherever we have plugged him in. He will continue to help with Dean of Student responsibilities, but his primary role will shift toward athletics. I want to be sure Mark has all the talent and support he needs to make sure GWA maintains and grows the competitiveness of its athletic programs. Matt will make a great addition to our athletic department.”

Matt's responsibilities will include, but not be limited to:

  • Developing, coordinating, and monitoring the school’s strategic plan for athletic competitiveness
  • Ensuring our student-athletes are eligible to compete in accordance with GHSA policies
  • Developing and managing adherence to safety protocols
  • Serving as a liaison to promote open communication channels between parents, students, coaches, and athletic administration
  • Coordinating logistics
  • Budgeting and spending approvals
  • Special projects as assigned by the Athletic Director or Head of School
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Big Debut

The first ever GWA girls’ lacrosse played their first game against Duluth High School last Friday and finished with a final score of 3-4 – an impressive result for a brand-new JV team. Freshman player Kendall Inman is new to the sport as are many of her teammates, and describes her experience as a rookie player, “I absolutely love it, and lacrosse has quickly and unexpectedly become one of my favorite sports to play. My favorite thing about lacrosse is the relationships I have built with my team and my phenomenal coaches, Coach Eddie, and Coach Jamie. There's not a day I don't go down to the lacrosse field without getting super excited for whatever practice will be filled with that day.”

Be sure to come out next Thursday to cheer on the Lady Dawgs as they take on Pinecrest Academy on the home field starting at 5:30 p.m.

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New Partnership

George Walton Academy is proud to announce that we have partnered with the NFHS Network, and we've invested in new technology that will bring you games from the Nicholson Center and Don Williams Stadium LIVE.

Join the NFHS Network for full access to:

· All GWA live and on-demand sports broadcasts

· All other sporting events from around the nation

To watch – visit, search George Walton Academy, subscribe and follow.

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All-County Honors Announced

The following varsity basketball players have been named to The Walton Tribune’s All-County Team:


First Team - Noah Hicks and Kennedy Johnson

Honorable Mention- Chase Jocelyn and Reese Gelsthorpe


Second Team – Hannah McDonel and Marnie Couch

Congratulations, Bulldogs!

Pictured in order mentioned - starting top left to right.

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Click HERE for athletic events on the GWA March calendar.
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(Virtual) Grandparents Day is Tomorrow!

We are excited to celebrate and honor our GWA grandparents and special friends virtually this year. Parents, please look for communication the morning of Friday, March 19 that will contain special directions on viewing our presentation. It will be made available to you via a weblink in email as well as on our social media channels. We welcome you to forward the email link directly to your student's grandparents and special friends so that they can view the video.

We are so grateful for all of the grandparents and friends within our GWA community and look forward to celebrating them!

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George Walton Academy will not be hosting spring pictures this year at the school. Our school photographer, Elena De La Rosa is kind enough to offer spring sessions at her studio in downtown Monroe on March 24, 25, & 26 at the same price she would’ve charged if the kids were having spring portraits at the school! This is exclusive to GWA students! You can view pricing and book online using this link:

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What We Have Learned From the Pandemic

Lynn Robinson, Director of School Counseling

We have now passed the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over this past year, we have experienced drastic life changes and have learned more about ourselves and about life in general. Out of curiosity, I asked the eighth graders and a group of our seniors what they have learned over the last year. I was impressed with the lessons they have learned, and I thought I would share a few of their answers with you. These students have learned:

1. How to be patient: Several of the seniors and eighth graders stated that they have had to be patient because daily activities, starting times and events have changed so often or been canceled that they had no choice but to learn “to relax and wait for it.”

2. How to be alone: The seniors who talked about this said that this was a hard lesson to learn, and especially so for those who considered themselves extroverts. Not being able to socialize in the regular way gave them no option but to enjoy their own company and on occasion, the company of their families.

3. How to be independent: This was an answer I got from both the seniors and the eighth graders. These students talked about learning to do things on their own and to do things that they have never had to do before. Learning to take care of themselves gave them a sense of accomplishment, and they felt more confident because they could handle more than they thought they could.

4. How to compromise: As one eighth grader put it, “I can’t always get my own way.” What a wonderful lesson for a young person to learn! Life is full of compromises, and often the best solutions come from a collaboration of several people.

5. How to appreciate the small things: Several seniors and eighth-grade students talked about enjoying things that they never had time to enjoy, and then they realized that what they had enjoyed seemed so simple and had always been there. They had never noticed. One senior said that she realized that she could enjoy “the obvious,” like watching birds that had landed on nearby limbs or looking at trees blowing in the wind. An eighth grader talked about hearing her favorite song unexpectedly and how that made her feel better. I think they have learned what my grandmother’s generation would have called “the simple things in life.”

These were only five of the many answers that I received. I have to say that I am very proud of our students. They have pulled such deep lessons from their experiences. Learning to cope in the ways they have described shows how much they have grown and matured.

Well done, students!

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Equestrian Excellence

GWA junior Rhiannon Williams is celebrating her national level accomplishments in equestrian show jumping. She successfully competed in the show jumper ring in 2020, and has recently been notified by The Jockey Club, who is the official governing body for equestrian events, that she is the East Coast Champion for “Off the Track Thoroughbreds” in show jumping for 2020. Rhiannon and her horse, Simply Luck, won the intermediate division, with jumps of 1-1.20 meters in height. Additionally, she placed third overall for the nation, and this award covered all jump heights combined. Way to go Rhiannon and congratulations on all of your accomplishments!
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We provide supervision for any middle school student afterschool until 5:30 p.m. However, if students do not sign in and stay in The Commons, they are not being supervised. Parents will receive an email each time their students signs in and out of The Commons.

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Today's In Focus is proudly sponsored by O'Shucks Seafood & Grill ( Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program? Contact Jeanie Beach at or call 678-635-3812.
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