In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

May 7, 2020

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Key Deadlines & Dates

May 8: GWA Spirit Day

May 8: Virtual Yearbook Presentation

May 8: Senior Class Last Day of School

May 11 & 12: Seniors' End-of-Year Pick Up and Drop Off (scheduled)

May 15: Last Day of School

May 18 -22: K3 - 11 End-of-Year Pick Up and Drop Off (scheduled)

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Reflections From the Class of 2020

In the past couple of months, I've reflected on my twelve years at GWA, and the aspect I will miss most is my grade. From the junior parking lot party to the Stone Mountain field trip, our class has only grown closer, and I can't imagine our class ever breaking ties in the near future. When school was cancelled, I wondered if our grade would stay in touch, but I was quickly reassured by our constant communication through the class of 2020 group chat. It's strange to only talk to my classmates through a screen, but I know they are there for me. I am proud of the conscious effort we make to include the entire grade in every event. We tried to plan the best graduation possible, and I bet our graduation ceremony will be the best one in school history. It feels unfair to not celebrate in the normal ways of the past, but we've seen the silver lining in this situation. I am comforted that I will have a support system going into college. There will always be a place to call home even when we go our separate ways. - Spring Rawl

George Walton Academy has prepared me well for the future. As I plan to attend Auburn University in the fall, I enter with the confidence that I have gained from my experiences at GWA. I have learned great study skills in all of my classes, have had internships help me make connections and work with others, and great opportunities to help me work with those in my community. I am sad to go, but I am grateful for what George Walton has taught me and the skills it has equipped me with. While this may not be the end of our senior year that we wanted, I believe that the class of 2020 will make it through and accomplish great things in the future. - Bailey Croker

If you would have told me in August that a pandemic would cause senior year to end this way, I would have called you crazy. This whole situation has been a total curveball to say the least, but I am so thankful for my GWA family and their exceeding efforts to still make us feel special and celebrated during this exciting time in our lives. For their love and support, I have the closure that is needed to end this chapter in my life and start the next. Although the typical end of senior year festivities are not going to take place the conventional way, I am so grateful that I still got to experience two of the best traditions GWA has to offer: the Christmas Tree Presentation and having the sweetest first grader. To recollect memories one day, I started to make a senior video at the beginning of the school year and looking back at all the clips, it seems so surreal. I would do anything to go back and relive those moments with the people I’ve grown up with over the past 12 years. Hopefully after this passes, people will appreciate the little things a lot more because I know I will. GWA, thank you for the opportunities, memories and lessons you’ve provided me during my walking your hallways. Your small campus yet large community I now call family will always have a piece of my heart. - Melissa Gish

It is truly incredible to see what we have accomplished this year, especially over the last few months. Of course this is not the way any of us planned to end our high school careers, but we have overcome extreme obstacles and pushed through to the finish line. We have come together as a class, as a school, and most importantly, as a family. Seasons ended short, and events got cancelled, but that did not stop our faculty and staff from working hard to still give us our senior experience. We all received signs in our yard, and spring sports coaches still did a virtual senior night for all of the senior athletes. I am so happy to be able to go to a school where employees will go to extraordinary measures for the students. That is what has always set GWA apart from the rest: their will to go above and beyond for us. - Ben Howard

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Head of School Dr. Dan Dolan will explain the plan for the return to campus for the 2020-2021 school year. Each session is limited to 15 attendees and will be presented in the robotics classroom in the main building (signs will be posted). Additional sessions to be added soon.

Note: there are also plans to make a video recording available the following week.

R.S.V.P. is required. Please click on your choice of date and time below to reserve your spot:

Monday, May 11th at 9 a.m.

Monday, May 11th at 1 p.m.

Monday, May 11th at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, May 12th at 9 a.m.

Tuesday, May 12th at 1 p.m.

Tuesday, May 12th at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, May 13th at 9 a.m.

Wednesday, May 13th at 1 p.m.

Wednesday, May 13th at 6 p.m.

Thursday, May 14th at 9 a.m.

Thursday, May 14th at 1 p.m.

Thursday, May 14th at 6 p.m.

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Staying Strong

We’ve been inspired by the many ways the GWA community has pulled together during this unprecedented time in history. Thank you for encouraging and supporting our students, teachers, staff, and one another. It’s never been more apparent that the George Walton Academy community is truly special.

We understand the uncertainty and challenges our families are facing at this time. While school life has been different over the past few months, the dedicated support of our community has allowed the GWA experience to continue despite the current situation.

The Annual Loyalty Fund remains our most important source of revenue beyond tuition and bridges the gap between tuition and the school’s operating costs. In light of the current global situation, we anticipate that some of our families may be in need of short-term financial aid. Your gift will go a long way in ensuring the GWA experience isn’t lost because of a temporary financial disruption for a current family. If you have not made your 2019-2020 gift and are able to do so, please consider participating and increasing opportunities across our school community. The deadline to give to our 2019-2020 Annual Loyalty Fund is June 30, 2020. All gifts postmarked by that date will be allocated accordingly.

Thank you for making GWA Stronger than Ever!

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End-of-Year Instructions

You should have received an email last week with information and instructions for end-of-year drop off and pick up. To limit the number of people on campus, please select a date and time to come on campus.

The link for seniors to set up a time is

The link for K3 - 11th graders is

Families only need to select one time slot to come to campus. If you did not receive the original message with all the details, please email Jeanie Beach at

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By Liz Jones, Yearbook Advisor


Tomorrow was set to be Yearbook presentation/distribution day before COVID-19 hit. We may not be getting yearbooks, but we have created our virtual yearbook presentation that will be available to watch after middle/upper school advisory tomorrow! I will send a schoolwide email out tomorrow at 10 a.m. with a private link. Please take the time to watch the presentation. It includes:

  1. Yearbook staff welcome and intros
  2. A special prayer for our school
  3. The virtual presentation of the yearbook dedication (featuring a google hangout recording of the yearbook staff and senior class presenting the dedication to a deserving faculty member)
  4. The end of the year slideshow (featuring awesome pictures from the year, a sneak preview of the yearbook cover and spreads, senior superlatives and senior baby pictures.)
  5. This year, there is a special extended ending created specifically for the class of 2020.

The yearbook presentation is a favorite celebration for many of our students and we don’t think our virtual presentation will disappoint (but you may want to grab a tissue!)!


In the email link tomorrow, we will also be including instructions on how to download a special template that you can use and share with your friends to have them sign pages that can be printed and put in the yearbook when we get them this summer! Look for detailed instructions tomorrow – it is super cool!


The publishing company is back at work this week and I have been in close contact with them to make sure our book gets printed ASAP! We have to wait our turn in the print que, but I am hopeful that it won’t be too much longer. As soon as we get a delivery date, I will be in touch with you all about distribution. If you are unsure about whether or not you ordered a book, feel free to email me at You can also email me if you’d like to be put on the waiting list to buy a yearbook (we have already sold the extra books we ordered, but the publishing company usually sends us some overruns that we can sell).


If you have spring sports pictures or lower school spring portraits that you ordered, please make sure to pick them up during your end of the year drop off/pick up sign up time! We have them at the school and ready to be distributed.

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2020 Hindsight

Students and Parents,

As we continue to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of George Walton Academy and all that it means to us, we would like to invite our high school students to participate in a collective Time Capsule project to be opened in the years to come.

Just as those who have come before us have done, we would like to leave something behind for our future George Walton students and families to see to be able to experience what George Walton was like in 2020 and some of the things that were important to our students today.

Examples of items that students could contribute could include but are not limited to:

  • Academic, Athletic, or Club memorabilia
  • Examples of student art
  • Hand-written letters about their experiences
  • Pictures/Albums
  • Old iPhone or other important technology (obviously something you don’t need anymore)

We are asking students who wish to participate to bring their item to the front office during the week of May 18-22 (May 11 & 12 for seniors) when they come to turn in school owned items and pick up their belongings.

Any questions or concerns, please contact Matt Reynolds at

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Tomorrow is GWA Spirit Day!

Please show your support for the Class of 2020 and wear your GWA spirit wear on Friday, May 8. Share your pics on social media in comments of the post we will put on Facebook that morning or use #gwaspiritday.
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Help us tell the #gwadigitaldays story on social media! We would love to share photos and short video clips of our students learning online – whether it is science, music or PE. Just email your photos/video clips (landscape format is best) to Christina Russell or post on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #gwadigitaldays. Additionally, feel free to share pics of your kids using their free time to learn something new or finding creative ways to have fun while we are all at home.

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Find Your Silver Lining

By Lindsey Bailey, Lower School Counselor

“Staying positive doesn’t mean that things will turn out OK.

Rather, it is knowing that you will be OK no matter how things turn out.” - Anonymous

Our world has turned upside down. The first few weeks were easier, but as the days turn into months,

we can all feel the tedium, the melancholy, the stagnation of our circumstance. There is value in

acknowledging your negative feelings, but dwelling on them can send you spiraling into darkness.

Today, I want to turn your attention away from this proverbial dark cloud that is COVID-19.

This situation is harder on some more than others, but everyone can find a silver lining. It might be

more quality family time, all the good news reporting, or perhaps all the money you are saving on gas.

It is not for me to say what you should be positive about. Only you can find your silver lining.

Whatever it is, find something that is good in your life right now and cling to it - remember it, write it,

or say it out loud.

Resource Roundup:

- Help kids find their silver lining with this worksheet.

- If you have more time to fill, have them create a quarantine time capsule .

- If you or someone you know are struggling with depression or other mental health concerns,

call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-6264 M-F, 10 am – 6 pm, or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to

741741 for 24/7, confidential, free crisis counseling.

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Here to Help

Do you have a technology question or issue? Check out our new tech support page and the information it provides to help resolve the majority of issues experienced by students/families and teachers. If you need additional assistance, please email

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Many Thanks!

Thank you to our dedicated and caring faculty and staff! Thank you to our GWA families for their love and support! Virtual hugs to all!

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From Film to Stage

Middle school drama students just completed their movie to stage projects. Each chose a popular movie and adapted it to a stage production. They designed posters and created costumes made for the stage. Check out the examples by seventh grader Sarah Floyd and eighth grader Sophia Tabrizi.

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Bravo, Bulldogs!

In case you missed the release of "The Dawg Show" last week - just click the arrow above (or visit to watch our first ever digital talent show. The category winners are revealed throughout the video and our Bulldog community gives performances that are sure to impress! Enjoy the show!
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Congrats Senior Golfers!

Best wishes to GWA senior golfers Maddie Brucker, Kene Pugh and Riley Shubert! Riley will continue his compete and play on the golf team at Truett McConnell University. To watch Coach Reynolds' senior recognition video, please visit our Facebook page or Instagram account.
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Congrats to Melissa Gish!

Senior Melissa Gish will sign to play tennis at Piedmont College. Coach Di Salvo's senior recognition video for Melissa will be posted later today on our Facebook page and Instagram account. Good luck in the classroom and on the court, Melissa!
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Campus Clean Up

GWA coaches are using this downtime to spruce up areas all over campus. From tree trimming to painting projects - our coaching staff is "putting in the work" to make our campus look its best!
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GWA Alum Shares Her Story

GWA alumna Amanda Leming Venuti (’04) recently shared her story about life during this pandemic. She lives on the southern California/Mexico border. Her husband is a Border Patrol Agent and commands the COVID Crisis Center at his sector – working around the clock to keep agents and those crossing the border healthy and safe. Like many of us, Amanda has become the teacher for her six children, all while assisting a non-profit organization that helps to provide border patrol families with essential supplies.

Amanda said, “We are keeping our spirits up with games, activities and home exercising. It’s tough, there have been tears, but we’re getting through it together. I hope all my GWA alumni are staying healthy and doing well! Praying for the Class of 2020. My heart breaks for them, but what a story they will be able to tell.”

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Today's In Focus is proudly sponsored by Athens Orthopedic Clinic. Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program? Contact Jeanie Beach at or call 678-635-3812.

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