In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

February 1, 2018

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Dear Bulldog Families and Friends,


I have found that there are many critical elements to an effective and successful school. Among them are a compelling mission and an engaged board. Tonight we have an opportunity for you to become more familiar with both!


During our first GWA State of the School Address, you’ll hear a summary of where the school is in regard to our strategic plan, maybe ask a few questions, and have an opportunity to meet our board members. We will meet in the Sanctuary space of the First Baptist Church of Monroe at 6 p.m. The strategic plan update will be followed by an informal reception with light refreshments in the Fellowship Hall.


For those of you who participated in shaping our strategic plan, this will be an update on your work. For those of you who were less involved in that process or are new to GWA, I trust you will find this event helpful in gaining a greater understanding of where we are heading as a school – and how fast we are getting there.


I also think this evening presents a unique opportunity to meet, or perhaps get to know better, our Board of Trustees. Their role in the crafting the vision for GWA is critical and we are all grateful for their hard work.


I hope you can join us,

Dan

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GWA Educator Recognized as History Maker

While high school math teacher Miss Carolyn Thigpen is known for being a very effective and talented educator, many may not know that she can also be commended for being on the first-ever women’s basketball team at the Georgia Institute of Technology. For an in-depth and very intriguing account from Miss Thigpen herself of how she played a part in this historic moment, please click here.


Miss Thigpen was recently recognized for being a founding member of women’s basketball at Georgia Tech while attending an alumni game hosted by the current team. Not wanting to miss a chance to see one of their favorite teachers, several GWA alumni who now attend Tech met up with Miss Thigpen to see her recognized and to simply catch up. Miss Thigpen was delighted to be reunited with former students Sophia Chapar, Jarod Schneider, Reese Howard, Petyon Hutchsion, and Jonathan Arrue.


Sophia Chapar describes Miss Thigpen as being “an influential person in [her] life and the lives of others who attended George Walton Academy." This event was extra special for Ms. Chapar as she now plays on Tech’s club travel basketball team, and she is glad to carry on the traditions that Miss Thigpen helped start so many years ago.

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Great Bowls of Fire...and Fun!

Dawgs 360 hosted another fabulous event last week at the first annual Chili Cook-Off and Bingo Night! It was a night of fun, food and fellowship with the GWA family. Thank you to D. J. Mike MckInney, all of the chefs, judges, sponsors and volunteers who made this event a success!


Congratulations to alll of the winners of the Cook-Off!


Best Overall: John Mura, Best Vegetarian: Erin Dolan, People’s Choice: Steve and Tammy Carter, Best Display: Steve and Tammy Carter, Most Unique: Michael and Riley Watkins

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Seventh Grade Student Chooses Empathy in Hard Situation

Seventh grade students have been preparing for their visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D. C. by learning about various pieces of literature and cinema that touch on the topic of the Holocaust. As a part of their preparation for the trip, students were given assignments to help them empathize with the horrific circumstances of this tragedy.


In their studies, students learned that many prisoners were only allowed to bring 20 pounds of belongings with them to the camps. Students were challenged to empathize with the victims of this tragedy by thinking about what items they would bring if faced with this harrowing situation.


Seventh grade teacher, Mrs. Kimberly Dolvin said, "I want our students to understand the impact of the Holocaust and to be very aware that when we are visiting the USHMM in D.C., they could be standing next to a survivor or someone who lost a loved one."


Seventh grader Della Couch took this a step further, bringing a bag with her to school weighing 20 pounds containing the items she would choose to bring. Della spent over an hour picking out items that would aid her both emotionally and physically.

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Historic Day at GWA

As part of our "I DId It For You" Intensive, during every period of the school day today, a different Vietnam veteran is sharing his story. These presentations go beyond informative, they are enlightening and moving. We are very grateful to these veterans and look forward to sharing a full report on these sessions in next week's edition of In Focus. Our thanks to Carolyn Steele who suggested that GWA fly the POW/MIA flag on campus. The flag was raised today and will be flying on certain days during the project. Click here to learn more about the history of the flag.


Next week is full of lessons and activities that will further engage our students in hands-on learning, including a trip to the National Infantry and Soldiers Museum at Fort Benning, a Science in the 60's Day, and a Huey helicopter will land on campus on Friday.

Honoring Our Vietnam Veterans

The "I Did It For You" Intensive will conclude with an exhibition at the Walton County Government Building from March 18-25. This exhibit will highlight student and veteran work and honor Vietnam veterans. Details on a special closing ceremony on March 25 will be shared soon. Art students are building a Living Honor Wall - a large free-standing panel with a carved American flag on one side and the names of Vietnam veterans laser engraved on the other. We want to honor as many veterans as possible and don’t want to inadvertently leave anyone out of the project. If you would like to participate, please email Brian Cole no later than Feb. 20. Thank you for your help with this tribute.

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Girls Basketball Scores Exciting Win Over Towns County

Congratulations to the Lady Bulldogs varsity basketball team for an exciting 48-44 win over Towns County on Friday evening. Emma Adair had a season high 18 points, and Baylee Bowers scored 14 points. The boys varsity also fought a tough game against Towns County, ultimately losing by only one point.

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Student Serves Up Praise for GWA Coach

Junior Isabella Hurley was inspired by GWA tennis coach Chiara Di Salvo's story - so much so - she wrote an article about her for monroelocal.org. We encourage you to check it out. We're confident you'll be impressed not only by Coach Di Salvo's discipline, determination and dedication, but also by Isabella's journalistic talents.
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Former Pro Lacrosse Player Introduces Sport to GWA Students

Over the past several days, middle school boys have had the privilege to learn about lacrosse in their P. E. classes from former professional lacrosse player, Drew Petkoff. Coach Petkoff, who has a passion for introducing the game of lacrosse to children who have never played, started off his lessons by introducing students to the history of the game and the fundamentals of how to play. The boys were then able to put this new knowledge to use, learning more about the sport through a series of drills.


The players enjoyed learning about this new sport. Student Parker Houck said, “It’s fun, but challenging.”


The introduction of lacrosse in P. E. classes is part of a plan to implement a lacrosse team for middle school boys at GWA.

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Chris Flessas Qualifies for State Swim Meet

The varsity swim team finished up their season last weekend. Senior swimmer Chris Flessas qualified for the State swim meet in the 100 yard breaststroke. Preliminary rounds are Fri., Feb. 2, and the finals are the following day at the Georgia Tech Natatorium. GWA is proud of you, Chris!

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Five GWA Wrestlers Qualify For Sectionals

GWA is very proud that five wrestlers have qualified for sectionals in GHSA Class A, which will be held in Macon. In their last regular tournament of the season, six wrestlers placed at the Area Traditional tournament at Commerce High School this past weekend.



Congratulations to the following athletes:



Chris Sperin: 2nd place, 126 lbs

Patrick Morris: 2nd place, 145 lbs

Bryson Williams: 3rd place, 106 lbs

Thomas Ashley: 3rd place, 113 lbs

Beau Michell: 3rd place, 120 lbs

Darius Barnum: 5th place, 170 lbs

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Another Chapter Closes for These Seniors

Tuesday, GWA seniors who participate in swimming, basketball and cheerleading were celebrated at the Winter Sports Senior Night. While being recognized, each senior presented his or her parents with a rose as a thank you for their support. At the end of the game, GWA senior basketball players took to the court to thank family and friends for their support this season. For these seniors and their parents, it was an emotional night as these young men and women closed one more chapter here at GWA. We are thankful for all of these seniors’ hard work and their accomplishments for George Walton athletics.

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The Great Kindness Challenge

Last week, GWA lower school students participated in a national campaign titled the Great Kindness Challenge (GKC). Students from more than 15,000 schools across the nation encouraged their peers to complete as many items as possible on the GKC checklist. Examples from the list include “give your friend a high five,” "offer to help your custodian,” and “sit with a new group of kids at lunch”.


Lindsey Bailey, the lower school counselor, was inspired to have GWA participate in the Challenge because “it sounded like a fun, simple way to celebrate and spread kindness.”

The GKC proved to be popular among the elementary school students. Some students thought that the ideas covered throughout the week brought their classmates closer together. Carolina Green, a fifth-grade student, said, “I think people cared about each other. It made everybody happy.”


Other students were drawn to specific ideas that the week brought about. Fifth grader Foster Keebaugh said, “My favorite [idea] was slipping a kind note in three people’s bags. Some of them never figured out who wrote the note!”

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A Proud Part of Walton County History

George Walton Academy is proud to be a part of Walton County's rich 200-year history. Our nationally-acclaimed band was honored to play at this week's bicentennial kick-off at the historic courthouse. Several GWA students also performed the national anthem as members of the Walton Proud Chorus. Thank you to the government officials and citizens for the warm welcome and for allowing GWA to be part of such a meaningful celebration. We invite you to click here to enjoy hearing the Bulldog Band!
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Learning the Do-Si-Do and Sashay!

Lower school music teacher Mrs. Debbie Dyer’s students can often be found moving and sashaying through a classic folk dance. While students learn about a variety of dances and songs throughout their time in Mrs. Dyer’s classes, a favorite always proves to be the folk dancing. Student Audrey Maddox says, “I love [folk dancing] because it doesn’t take a whole week to learn – it just takes a day!”


Mrs. Dyer admits that she is passionate about folk dancing. She believes it is a valuable skill for students to learn because it includes exercise, listening skills and good old fashioned fun! Folk dancing also has a lot of history behind it, reflecting the time periods the songs come from and linking generations together, as this dancing has been passed down throughout the past several years.


One of Mrs. Dyer’s students Leighton Grant said, “[Folk dancing is] awesome because they’re dances that have been passed down from generation to generation.”


Mrs. Dyer loves teaching her students these new dances saying, “We are always laughing and smiling when we dance... I love my job!”

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Alumna Makes Global Impact

Yet another GWA alumna has proven to make GWA very proud! Sam Stevens, class of 2011, is making a huge impact on lives across the country and the globe as she works in Washington, D. C. at the Congressional Hunger Center. She focuses on issues of domestic and international food insecurity by monitoring national anti-hunger and anti-poverty policy for her organization and helping develop a curriculum about the root causes of domestic hunger and poverty. In the coming weeks, Ms. Stevens will travel to Nairobi for training on international food insecurity. We are proud to have alumni across the world who work hard to make our world a better place.

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By Michael Clancy, Director of College Counseling

At some point before a student graduates from George Walton, he or she will likely use the Georgia Futures website. Most students use it in their senior year to apply for state financial aid. Many senior students also use it to apply to and have their high school transcripts sent to one of 73 post-secondary institutions in the State of Georgia. However, there is much more to the GA Futures site. Read more.

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Feb. 1 - Trip Week Deadline

Today is the deadline to register for Trip Week.


Mar. 7 - SAT Testing

Math and English review on Monday and Tuesday, see Mrs. Carson.


Mar. 24 - Atlanta College Application Mini-Camp

Workshops on preparing for college presented by several university reps on the Georgia State University campus. Recommended for ninth-eleventh grade students and families. Learn more and register.


Mar. 25 - NACAC University Fair

Close to 200 colleges will be in attendance at the National Association of College Admissions Counseling University Fair. Learn more and register.


Mar. 26 - GWA College Fair

More information to come.

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GWA is delighted to invite parents to hear a special presentation by Bob Babcock, a Vietnam veteran, who will speak about his life and time as a member of the armed forces as a part of the I Did It for You: Vietnam Intensive. Please note that space is limited; r.s.v.p. to emcdonel@gwa.com.


Bob Babcock has lived a life full of adventure. He served from 1966 to 1967 in the Vietnam War as rifle platoon leader with Bravo Company in the Army Infantry. After completing his year of service, Mr. Babcock had a career as an IBM executive for 34 years; he now is the CEO of Deeds Publishing. He currently lives in Athens and heads up the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association. More information on Mr. Babcock may be found here.

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