In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

October 26, 2017

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New Coach Holly Atkinson Introduces Exciting Training Class

My name is Holly Atkinson, and I am excited to debut a new elective that is now offered to our GWA female athletes. Sports Training is an elective in the physical education department that provides our student athletes the opportunity for strength and mobility training during the school day. The focus of Sports Training is to provide functional strength training, improved flexibility and injury prevention. During this class, the female students participate in strength training in the weight room two days per week and each athlete is provided a strength program for her specific sport. The other three days of the week are spent practicing speed and agility, yoga and cardiovascular exercise to increase endurance.


Sports Training is offered to female student athletes in eighth through twelfth grades. Current students are involved in softball, volleyball, cheerleading, competitive dance, swimming and color guard. Students do not have to participate in a George Walton sport in order to take Sports Training. Student athletes are noticing improvements and are proud of their progress. Some of my favorite comments I have heard about the class include:


“Coach Holly, I can do push-ups now."

“I am so much more flexible!”

"My hamstrings used to be so tight, now I can almost touch my toes."

"My stunts and jumps are easier now.”


I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to work with many of our student athletes here at GWA. Both my husband and I graduated from GWA, and our three kids are students here! I have a degree from the University of Georgia in Exercise and Sport Science and a Masters in Physical Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia.


If you have questions about the program, please contact me, Holly Atkinson, at hatkinson@gwa.com.

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GWA Hires New Director of Marketing and Strategic Communications, Mrs. Rebecca Williams

Please help us welcome Rebecca Williams to George Walton Academy. Rebecca is joining our Advancement team where she will serve as the Director of Marketing and Strategic Communications. She has over 20 years of experience in marketing, having most recently served as the Director of Strategic Communications for Mount Pisgah Christian School in North Atlanta.

She has been honored with the Communicator’s Gold Award for excellence in writing for press releases, the national Cecil Award for Writing and has been nominated for an Associated Press Award. Prior to working in the education sector, Rebecca was a television news anchor and reporter for CBS and NBC affiliate stations. She and her husband Scotty have a 22-year old daughter, Macy.

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Congratulations Megan McGoldrick and Mrs. Jo Taylor

Congratulations to Megan McGoldrick, October’s Rotary Student of the Month. Megan is a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club and has been recognized as an

AP Scholar. She placed third in state for Technology Student Association’s (TSA) prepared presentation. Megan plans on attending the University of Georgia to major in Management Information Systems.


Megan selected Mrs. Jo Taylor as the October Teacher of the Month. Congratulations, Megan and Mrs. Taylor.

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A Standing Ovation for Originality!

Throughout the 18 years that elementary school teacher Mrs. Debbie Dyer has worked at George Walton Academy, her teaching methods have evolved creatively, technologically and methodically. A notable change that has occurred over time is while she used to purchase commercially manufactured musicals, students now perform musicals that are completely original to GWA.


This past summer, Mrs. Dyer participated in a series of webinars which focused on adapting children’s literature into new musical programs. The webinars, which were hosted by fellow educator Aileen Miracle, inspired Mrs. Dyer to write a musical adaptation of the book “How I Became a Pirate,” written by Melinda Long and illustrated by Daniel Shannon. After reading the book with her first and second grade students, Mrs. Dyer discussed the term “adaptation,” and how the students could utilize adaptation to transform the story into a musical. With the help of some pirate songs, choreography, colorful sets and costumes, and a fun plot twist, the musical was born.


Mrs. Dyer’s adaptation of “How I Became a Pirate” was not her first experience writing an original script for GWA. A few years ago, Mrs. Dyer’s students performed another piece written specifically for them, “Passport to Christmas.” The plot portrayed children from several countries who annually returned to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Baby Jesus from their respective homes. Third and fourth grade students helped write the script for the musical, providing their insight on what they believed should be said about the United States. Embracing both domestic and international songs, dances and clothing, the musical provided a culturally rich experience, educating both the cast and audience on how Christmas is viewed globally.


“The ability to be creative and to teach the children performance skills is just one of the reasons I love my job at GWA!” said Mrs. Dyer.

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George Walton Says a Temporary Adios to Spanish Exchange Students

Sun. Oct. 22, six Spanish exchange students who spent four weeks on the George Walton campus flew back home to Barcelona. All ninth grade students from St. Paul’s School in Barcelona, Spain: Juan Camilo, Nico, Juan, Nicole, Laia and Inés had been on campus since late September as part of GWA’s inaugural Cultural Immersion program.


The students participated in all elements of GWA student life and classes. They read “To Kill a Mockingbird” in English classes and learned about industrialization and World War I in history classes. They took part in biology with Dr. Dibble and Ms. Walker, took pictures for yearbook with Mrs. Jones and Mr. Cole, and even tried their hand in GWA’s new sculpture class. The students also had a chance to participate in sports – both on and off campus – taking part in volleyball, cheerleading, and tennis with their host students.


In addition to participating in activities on campus, the exchange students were able to explore other cultural aspects of Georgia. Within the first few days of their arrival, they caught the last home game of the Braves’ season at the new SunTrust Stadium. On days when GWA students were taking exams, the students visited the World of Coke in Atlanta and were able to shop at the Mall of Georgia. They also visited Georgia Tech’s campus to meet with a St. Paul’s alumna who is a sophomore studying biomedical engineering. Their host families took them to Disney World, Washington, D.C., and the north Georgia mountains during Fall Break, and to UGA games and local attractions on the weekends.


While GWA misses the St. Paul’s students, the experience is not over. In April, all six GWA host students will travel with high school teacher Mrs. Femke Côté to Spain to exchange for three weeks. They will stay with the same students who hosted them and will experience life as a student at St. Paul’s School. Based on the experience that the Spanish students had at GWA, the GWA students are sure to enjoy their time in Barcelona.


George Walton is thankful for the host families who helped make this experience possible: the Sheehans, Hughes, Laniers, Waldos, McMains and Harts. The school is also grateful for the teachers and students who helped welcome the students and fostered such a good relationship with St. Paul’s School.

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Junior Bulldog Band Performs Under Friday Night Lights for the First Time

The crowd enjoyed an extra treat when the George Walton Academy Bulldog Marching Band performed at the Oct. 20 football game. The Junior Bulldog Band – comprised of sixth and seventh grade students – joined in for the pre-game show, the spirit tunnel welcoming football players onto the field, and the songs the band played in the stands during the game. During halftime, the Jr. Bulldogs added a musical touch from the stands while the older students performed on the field.


As this was the Jr. Bulldogs’ first time performing with the marching band, each of the younger students was partnered with a “big brother” or “big sister” to help them with the various performances and connect with them throughout the evening.


Band director Mr. Christian Smith said, “[The Junior Bulldog Band] had a fantastic time and did our school and band program proud!”

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George Walton Celebrates Red Ribbon Week

GWA is observing Red Ribbon Week this week. It is the nation's largest and oldest drug prevention campaign. It is an alcohol, tobacco, and other drug and violence prevention awareness campaign observed annually in October in the United States.


Acknowledging the campaign, the entire school participated in various programs and dress up days, including Friday’s “Be a ‘Jean-ius’ and Stay Drug Free”. Elementary school students attended a program presented by Sargent Duffy from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office that focused on drug awareness. The high school students viewed a program titled “Living your Natural High” through the Bulldog Bark News show.


Click here to learn more about Red Ribbon week and drug and violence awareness.

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Bringing History to Life through Exploration

The sixth grade class enjoyed their trip to Stone Mountain Park to tour the Stone Mountain Memorial Association Education Center. Students toured exhibits where they learned about the geological forces that formed Stone Mountain and the nearby Appalachian Mountains.


The students then enjoyed the one mile hike that covers a change in elevation of 786 feet to the top of the landform. As they traveled up the hiking path, students learned about the geological features on the mountain and the various plants that live at different elevations.


Students said that they enjoyed being able to see all the landmarks in the sixty miles visible from the top of the mountain.

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Check-Mate: A 3-Dimensional Approach to a Classic Game

The 3D Printing class utilized software to create 3D models of chess pieces to print out, while maintaining the correct dimensions within the whole set. The students also learned how to incorporate their CAD parts into drawings.

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If the College Won't Come to You...Then You Might Have to Go to the College

Beginning with the University of Georgia on Aug. 25, representatives from 22 colleges have visited George Walton, with four more scheduled to visit in November. While it is important to meet with college representatives when they visit the school, it is hard to be sure if an institution is right for you without visiting the school while classes are in session or during a Preview Day. There are many Preview Days scheduled around Georgia. If you are a high school student – or the parent of one – and have a free Saturday coming up, consider visiting a college.


Here is a list of several Preview Days around the State:


October 27 (Friday) – Piedmont College


October 27-29 – Emmanuel College


October 28 – Emory University in Atlanta, SCAD in Savannah, Truett McConnell University


November 5 – University of West Georgia


November 11 – Georgia Southern University (Statesboro), University of North Georgia (Dahlonega), Georgia Southwestern University (Americus), Young Harris College


November 17 (Friday) – Georgia Tech


November 18 – Berry College, Mercer University, Reinhardt College


Go enjoy the autumn foliage and some roadside attractions as you visit a university, and see if you can picture yourself there!

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Would You Like to See Your Veteran in Our Veterans Day Video?

Please submit a .jpg photo to gwavetpics@gmail.com. Deadline for photos is Friday, November 3rd. Questions? Please email Wrynn Carson at wcarson@gwa.com.
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