In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

January 30, 2020

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Key Deadlines & Dates


  • Chili Cook Off & Bingo Night: TONIGHT @ 6 p.m.
  • Re-enrollment Contracts Released: Jan.31
  • Red Cross Blood Drive: Jan. 31
  • Spring Sports Photo Day: Feb. 13 (most sports)
  • State of the School Address: Feb. 13 @ 6:30 p.m.
  • Valentine's Day Parties: Feb. 14
  • Counselor Chat Guest Speaker: Feb. 20
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Bringing Bulldogs Together

Parent involvement is the key ingredient of our Dawgs 360 program. Studies show that when parents take an active role in their children’s school community – everyone benefits, including students, teachers and parents. Parent/family involvement leads to greater academic success, improved communication among educators, parents and administrators and greater commitment to the school by all parties.


Dawgs 360 is a community of roughly 1,500 members from parents, students, faculty, grandparents and even aunts and uncles. You will find them volunteering their time, donating materials, attending all types of events, serving as room parents and answering the call to help throughout the year.


Melinda Dally, GWA parent and alumna, believes her family has benefited from their membership in Dawgs 360. She explained, “Some of the greatest memories of my life revolve around sports. I loved competing when I was a student at George Walton and now, I get to enjoy watching my children and their friends battle for the win. Dawgs 360 makes it easy and convenient to attend all sporting events and join the GWA Bulldog camaraderie!”


Tonight’s Chili Cook Off and Bingo Night exemplifies the Dawgs 360 mission- with over 50 parents, students, grandparents and alumni playing a part in the event. If you aren’t one of the 50 volunteers, be sure to join us for a night of family fun. We will have chili from 15 different chefs to sample, a great panel of judges, a special appearance by Awgie the Bulldog, pizza, drinks and bingo cards for $1 and DJ Mike McKinney spinning the tunes!


The balance of the school year offers more opportunities to contribute to our community. On April 17, Walton County Relay for Life will once again be hosted by GWA and the need for volunteers is immense. You can get involved by joining a fundraising team or signing up to volunteer for the evening. Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week is May 4 -8. Dawgs 360 is looking for volunteers to serve as chairs as well as provide treats and gifts.


If you are ready to jump in and get involved with your fellow Bulldogs – please feel free to reach me at 678-635-3818 or emcdonel@gwa.com. My door is always open!


Elizabeth McDonel

Director of Dawgs 360

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Chili Cook Off and Bingo TONIGHT!

There is so much fun in store for our third annual Chili Cook Off and Bingo Night! Awgie the Bulldog will be on hand for photos from 6 - 6:30 p.m., Paula Gerhardt will be making balloon animals and we have prizes galore. Stop by to sample the variety chef-made chili, enter the limbo contest and try your luck at bingo. Hope to see you there!
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Tickets For Sale

Stop by the Dawgs 360 house to purchase tickets for the upcoming Daddy Daughter Dance, sponsored by the Monroe Rotary Club.
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Perfecting Our Performing Arts

Space has been a major constraint for our performing arts, as our band outgrew their space years ago and new additions such as dance host their classes in the concession stand of the Nicholson Center. The Go Beyond campaign will provide new spaces for our band, chorus, dance and piano classes with the creation of the Christian Smith Band and Performing Arts Rehearsal Center. This new space will be created by renovating our Middle School gymnasium. It will provide our band students with a proper band facility with high ceilings and a real sound stage. The space will feature an acoustical band shell similar to a concert hall, making GWA one of the only schools in the state with a shell in a practice facility. The current band hall will be converted into a new dance studio, piano lab, choir room and break out spaces for small groups and individual lessons. This new space will help George Walton students to find new passions and grow their talents.

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Annabelle Jerman is Student of the Month

Annabelle Jerman has been named Rotary Student of the Month for January. She has chosen Todd Shelnutt as Teacher of the Month. Annabelle has earned Best of the Best, Headmaster’s List and the Scholar Award for both softball and soccer. She is president of Beta Club, president of TSA (Technology Student Association), Socratic Circle co-president, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) co-president as well as an active member of National Honor Society, Student Council, Gavel Club and the GWA Student Ambassador program. Annabelle plays varsity softball, basketball and soccer. She serves her community through involvement with her church, Bethlehem UMC, and the Debutantes of Monroe. Annabelle will attend the University of Georgia and major in animal sciences and education on a pre-veterinary track. Congratulations to Annabelle and Coach Shelnutt!
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GWA Receives AP Award

GWA is proud to be a recipient of The 2019 AP CSP Female Diversity Award for AP Computer Science Principles. The award recognizes schools with female representation of 50% or more in the class. Research shows that women are more likely to pursue computer science if they are given the opportunity to explore it in high school. This award was given to 639 schools in the nation and only 15 in Georgia.

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Fifth Grade CHAMPS

Our fifth graders have graduated from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office CHAMPS program! They gained the skills and knowledge necessary to avoid negative peer pressure and make smart, safe decisions regarding tobacco, drugs and alcohol. The students completed 9 informative classroom sessions with Sergeant Chris Labowitz and wrote essays on the topics of bullying, drug/alcohol abuse and internet safety. Congrats to the following winners:


Essay winners - London Lewis, Peyton Wilson, and Phillip Akin.

Overall champs - Emmett Kirkpatrick, Wyatt Akin, and Chloe Arnold.


Thanks to Sergeant Labowitz for his guidance and to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and American Legion Post 233 for their support of this valuable program.

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Making Models

Fourth-grade students started the new term in science learning about DNA and cells. This will lead to their major study of the systems of the human body. Students created animal and plant cell models out of play dough to get a “feel” for all things cell!

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Learning Abroad

During Winter Term, 11 GWA students traveled to our partner schools in France and Spain to experience life as a student abroad. Students stayed with the same student they hosted at GWA in the fall and attended school for three weeks to improve their language skills and expose themselves to another culture and way of life through living with a host family. Students had the opportunity to travel with their host families on the weekends, going skiing or exploring a new city, even getting to catch a FC Barcelona soccer game at the Camp Nou stadium. This authentic experience creates lifelong friendships while allowing them to get outside of their comfort zone in a safe way to develop greater empathy and cultural competency. We are very appreciative of our respective partner schools, and look forward to sending another group next year!
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Practicing Kindness

This week lower school students participated in the 2020 Great Kindness Challenge along with 13 million students across the globe! The Great Kindness Challenge is one week dedicated to creating a culture of kindness and compassion across school campuses. This is the third year GWA has proudly participated in this proactive and positive kindness initiative where students are encouraged to do as many kind acts as possible.


In the spirit of kindness, students are holding doors and using good manners, encouraging and helping others, making "kindness matters" signs to post around school, mixing it up at lunch to make everyone feel welcome, and finding creative ways to thank faculty, staff, and administrators. Why? Because kindness creates happiness, increases self-esteem, improves relationships, and boosts health. We believe in it so much that we made it homework for the week with the GKC Family edition!


We hope that the mutual joy from this week of kindness will inspire everyone to keep it going all year long!

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Got Books?

Join the Interact Club, NHS and Beta Club in supporting the nonprofit Books for Keeps program by donating your gently used books. For each book donated - students may send one free candygram to a friend!
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Become a Donor!

GWA Student Council will sponsor the Red Cross Blood Drive on Friday, Jan. 31, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Nicholson Center. Due to recent events, the need for blood donors has reached the critical stage. To schedule an appointment, you may download the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code: gwa, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Please remember photo identification is required for all donors.

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Have You Signed Up?

Do you pay taxes for an LLC or C-Corp? By making a payment through GOAL, businesses may be eligible to receive a federal business expense deduction and, for the business owners, a 100% Georgia income tax credit.See tax benefit explanation here. Please contact Tara Gill at tgill@gwa.com in the Business Office to learn how you or your company can designate a portion of your tax liability to GWA and receive a dollar for dollar tax credit from the state.

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Gala Donations Needed

GWA Family- our Golden Gala is rapidly approaching. We are still accepting items for our Silent Auction; however, our greatest need is contributions for our prize buckets. Items such as restaurant gift cards, beverages, company swag, and pieces of art make great additions to these baskets. If you are able to make our prize buckets even more incredible, please bring your items by the Advancement Office.


Yesterday, we launched our voting platform for our Grade Projects. Please follow this link to help choose FIVE grade projects to be featured in the Live Auction at our Golden Gala. The remaining ten projects will be featured in our Silent Auction. Follow this link to vote on our GRADE PROJECTS. You can view our current Silent Auction items HERE.


Thank you for all of your support of our Lucky Dawg Golden Gala!

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The Purpose of Passion

By Lynn Robinson


I am not a sports fan, and I know very little about sports in general. I will go to a professional sporting event if enough of my family or friends are attending, so that I can have fun without really watching the game. I have read Jeff Lalaian’s book, Notlanta: Georgia Sports Cursed? Honestly, I read it because Jeff is a friend and colleague, but I must admit I found his book to be immensely enjoyable, despite my ignorance. What I liked most about it was that it says a lot about who Mr. Lalaian is as a person. It tells of his passion. Mr. Lalaian’s passion is being a sports enthusiast, and he has fed that passion by supporting his hometown sports teams, who literally have taken him on the journey of a lifetime.


My passion is music. I love to listen to it. I love to talk about it, and just like Mr. Lalaian, I use my passion as a way for me to enjoy my family and friends. Music helps soothe my soul. I can’t worship at church unless I get to sing. (Don’t worry, the choir master doesn’t let me sing by myself.) I have over a thousand songs in my iTunes library, have a closet full of LPs, 45’s and 78’s and have a few eight-track tapes that I cannot bring myself to throw away.


Unfortunately, the word, “passion,” has become a buzz word most often associated with choosing a career. I don’t agree that our passion should be what we do at work. Certainly, we should be interested in our occupation. We should be dedicated to it, but that doesn’t require our passion. Our passion should enhance who we are and what we do. It should rejuvenate our souls and help us make it through tough days. I think everyone should have a passion. It makes life more enjoyable.


So, what’s your passion?

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Mark Your Calendar for Feb. 20

Please join us for Counselor Chats next month to learn the most up-to-date information on vaping and Juuling from Dr. Brian Dew. He currently serves as Chair of the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services at Georgia State University. Prior to assuming the department chair position in 2011, Dr. Dew coordinated the Masters and Ed.S. programs in Mental Health Counseling at GSU. Dr. Dew’s research has focused on substance use, primarily on the topics of methamphetamine use and treatment, opioid use, and more recently, the use of vaping/e-cigarettes. This event is open to parents and students in middle and high school as well as the greater community - so invite your friends and neighbors. To attend, please RSVP to Lindsey Bailey at lbailey@gwa.com.
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300+ Wins

Congratulations to Coach Lori Hines on her 300 career wins (202 at GWA)! The Lady Dawgs added another "W" on Tuesday night - defeating the Walker School in overtime with a final score of 46-44.
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Top Dawgs!

Congratulations to Coach Grace Martin and the GWA middle school girls basketball team on Monday night's Championship win – defeating Prince Avenue 41-28! Allie Marler and Ashley Hill were named All-Tournament. Congrats to all on a great season!
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Swim Season Wraps Up

The GWA varsity swim team wrapped up their season at Riverside Military Academy’s 1A Championship meet on Wednesday night. Swimmers M.K. Dopp, Alex Carrillo, Ella Rowan, Max Misterka, Timothy Pham, Jake Moore, and Charlie Stout finished the season strong with time cuts and placements in the top 12. With several swimmers achieving times close to state-qualifying times- we look forward to next year’s success. Thanks to assistant coaches Mandy Stout and Katie Power for their help throughout the season. If your child is interested in swimming next season- please contact Coach Doretta Power at dpower@gwa.com.


Good luck to Charlie Stout as he gets ready to compete at the 2020 GHSA Swimming & Diving State Championships - held Feb. 6-8 at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.

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Be in the Know!

GWA spring sports are kicking off in the next few weeks! Click the calendar link above to check out upcoming sporting events.

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Please welcome our newest Corporate Partner – The Joint Chiropractic. Join them for their grand opening and ribbon cutting on Feb. 27 at their Covington location.


Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program? Contact Jeanie Beach at jbeach@gwa.com or call 678-635-3812.

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