In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

March 29, 2018

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A Walk in the PARC

Dear GWA Family and Friends,

We are proud to unveil the name for George Walton Academy’s new learning center:

the Place for Academic Reinforcement and Coaching (PARC). The name not only conjures up images of a comfortable atmosphere, but most importantly, the students were the ones who chose it.

The PARC is designed to extend educational support to students of all levels. Whether a student wants to improve a class grade or has other educational needs, the PARC is here to support every learner. The PARC is committed to equipping students with strategies and necessary skills for academic success. Students will find in the PARC:

· Tutoring (faculty and peer)

· Academic coaches

· Study skills and learning strategies

· Critical thinking support

· Test-taking accommodations (for qualifying students)

· Educational workshops (faculty and student)

Parents can find support and direction for their child’s learning through the PARC! I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the PARC’s staff:

Julie Howard, Lower School Academic Coach

Angela Williams, Middle School Academic Coach

Ginny Gregg, High School Academic Coach

Misty Lalaian, Testing & Tutoring Coordinator

We are excited and honored to be entrusted with such an important role in your child’s education. We look forward to supporting you and your child. Please stay tuned for more information regarding location and operating details for the PARC.


Doretta Power, PARC Director

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GWA Valedictorian, Salutatorian and Junior Marshals Announced

It is with great honor that George Walton announces Grayson Eady as the Class of 2018’s Valedictorian and Kaitlyn Rutledge as the Salutatorian. Since enrolling in GWA in elementary school, these students have set standards of excellence in all areas of their lives from academics to extracurricular activities. They are role models for others to emulate and future leaders in our global society. Grayson plans to attend Georgia Tech, and Kaitlyn will be attending the University of Georgia. Congratulations on their well-deserved honors.

The eight juniors with the highest cumulative grade point averages receive the designation of Junior Marshals and will serve as ceremonial leaders for the Class of 2018.

Congratulations to the Junior Marshals: Lydia Akin, Tatiana Bolds, Grace Anne Hanson, Isabella Hurley, Eliza Malcom, Caroline May, Matthew McMain, and Odile Vidrine. We are so very proud of them and their accomplishments.

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Simon Scornik Student of the Month

Congratulations to Simon Scornik for being selected as March’s Rotary Student of the Month; he has selected Mrs. Crowell to be the Rotary Teacher of the Month. Simon is a member of National Honor Society and Beta Club. He serves as captain of the tennis team. He has spent many hours volunteering with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and with Faith In Serving Humanity. Simon plans to attend the University of Georgia to study biology on the premed track.

GWA Introduces Middle School Electives Expo

On Monday afternoon, sixth and seventh grade students participated in the first ever GWA Middle School Expo where they heard from teachers about their options for elective classes next year. Students learned about a variety of electives including band, chorus, drama, art and more! Students spent time at each station; they left feeling well informed on their options for the upcoming year. We hope that this is the beginning of a new GWA tradition!

Some"body" Once Told Me...

Last week, anatomy students began to wrap up their year by visiting the Bodies exhibit in Atlanta. The exhibit takes students on a visual tour exploring different aspects of the human body covering the various systems that they have studied throughout their time in their anatomy class. Our students were commended for how knowledgeable they were. “I am proud of all their hard work,” said anatomy teacher Dr. Debra Cook.

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We the People of GWA... Know the Preamble to the Constitution

The fourth-grade classes are on a mission to learn the Preamble of the Constitution.

After learning about the Preamble in their classes, the students were challenged to fill up a “game board” by reciting the Preamble to adults to gain signatures for their boards. If they complete the task successfully, adults sign one space; if they can explain one of the five principles of the Preamble, they can get another space signed. Once the game board is full, the students are able to turn it in for extra credit on the test.

“Every citizen should know the Preamble and what it means,” said fourth-grade teacher Sabrina Wardell.

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When 3-D Printing Meets the Medieval Times

Matt Reynold’s class has been covering the Medieval times; to help bring the era to life, they have been working together to create board games centered around the subject. Student Reese Behnke said, “I liked the project because it was really cool to be able to take a topic that we were studying and turn it into a board game of our own.”

In a collaboration with Philip Peavy’s technology classroom, the tech students have been creating game pieces using 3-D printing. “It’s really cool to see the creativity of the students with what they come up with and create,” said Mr. Reynolds.

When You're Allowed to Play with Your Food...

Of course, we all know the classic rule “don’t play with your food.” However, third grade students were allowed to make a small exception to that this week. After studying “The Growth and Life Cycles of Plants and Animals,” students were provided fruits and vegetables to try. As they were enjoying the healthy treat, students had to decide what part of the plant they were eating, whether it was the flower, the roots, leaves or something else!

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IMPORTANT: Annual Loyalty Fund Information

The Annual Loyalty Fund is the most vital fundraiser for George Walton Academy because it enables us to:

· attract and retain the best teachers,

· strengthen faculty and staff with professional training,

· provide invaluable support through security personnel, school nurses, maintenance and custodial services, and

· secure equipment and materials needed to support our many programs.

The Annual Loyalty Fund campaign ends on June 30, 2018. We will mail end-of-year pledge reminders after Spring Break. If you would like to check your status, please review our listing of the contributions we have received to date by clicking here. Parents, grandparents and alumni who have already made contributions may also click on the link to review listings and categories. If a correction should be made to your listing, please email Jeanie Beach at If you would like to make an online gift to the Annual Loyalty Fund, please click here.

Reflecting on their Service and Sacrifice

Thank you to the many veterans who contributed to GWA's historic "I Did It For You" 12-week interdisciplinary, intensive study of the Vietnam War. This past Sunday, more than 450 members of our community gathered for a moving honor ceremony as our students, faculty, band, chorus, speakers, and dignitaries gathered to thank our veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. Guests were given special commemorative books filled with artwork and writings created by our students. Thank you to teachers Jo Taylor and Karen Barrett for their vision and leadership throughout this extraordinary educational experience. We invite you to click below to view a video wrap-up that features just a small glimpse of this groundbreaking project.
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The Vietnam Intensive Closing Ceremony: A Reflection

As a part of the Vietnam Intensive, some students were selected to serve as student reporters, writing articles on the various events that took place throughout the last few months. Reporters senior Megan McGoldrick and sophomore Jenna Lo were able to be a part of the intensive's closing ceremony this weekend. Below are their personal accounts of the ceremony and the past several weeks working with the intensive.

Megan McGoldrick

As the I Did It for You intensive comes to a close, I cannot help but to reflect back on the closing ceremony and how much this project has meant to me. Choosing to be a student leader for this intensive is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and seeing the tears, smiles and appreciation from every veteran at the ceremony made all of the preparation worth it. From behind the podium, I could see the friendly faces of veterans I had met months, days or even minutes ago looking on, ready to experience the praise they have never received but truly deserve. The quilts of valor were draped across two very deserving men, and a compilation of student work was compiled into a book and given out to the veterans. Each branch of the military was represented through a song performed by the band and chorus, and as the veterans stood, they glowed with pride and patriotism. As one final round of applause was given to the veterans at the end of the ceremony, I could not help but to hold back tears. The impact these veterans have had on my life is astounding, and I am sure their lessons will influence me throughout college and my adult life. There is no way for me to represent how much this project has meant to me, and there is no way to thank each veteran as much as he or she truly deserves. The impact the I Did It for You intensive has had on my school and community is immense, and I cannot wait to see the lasting impacts continue to develop throughout the next several years.

Jenna Lo

During the Closing Ceremony, I was sitting right in front of all of the veterans. I could see every reaction, every tear, every emotion they felt right in front of me. I was nervous about speaking in front of all of them since I had to present the Quilts of Valor to two of the veterans. I practiced what I had to say over and over again, but the pressure was still there. Before I had to present the quilts, the band played music, the chorus sang songs like “God Bless America” and a couple of veterans spoke. With all of that together, I tried really hard not to cry. It seemed as if my eyes were tearing up the whole time, but I tried not to be too obvious. I wasn’t aware of the fact that I was being recorded the whole time, and it was very obvious that I was crying until after the ceremony. Hearing the veterans speak and the songs being played stirred up some emotion in me, and the other veterans sitting right in front of me with their emotions and reactions didn’t help at all. I felt grateful, relieved, honored, and so proud of our country.

To read the rest of Jenna's experience, please click here.

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Groovin' For Our Grandparents

GWA opened its doors to our grandparents, honoring them and the lasting impact they have had on our Lower School students. The “Jukebox Party” began with light refreshments and a musical program highlighting our elementary general music, chorus and band students. After the completion of the program, grandparents were welcomed into the classroom. We look forward to having them back next year!

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First Ever GWA Prom King and Queen Crowned

GWA’s juniors and seniors enjoyed prom this weekend at 9 Oaks Farm in Good Hope. The theme was “A Black-Tie Affair.” Students enjoyed music by the band the Desperate Measures. The seniors’ parents joined in on the fun for a few minutes that evening for the Senior Walk, which includes a “Most Likely” superlative as well as each student’s college and major. After the presentation, the first ever Prom Queen and King were crowned. Congratulations to Baylee Bowers for being named Queen and Torey Zanders for being crowned King. The prom served as a fun memory for all, especially the seniors who will be graduating in a few short months.

GWA Book Fair in Need of Volunteers

Looking for a way to get involved at GWA? Volunteering through Dawgs 360 at the Book Fair is the perfect way to stay connected, make new friends and have fun while helping students find the books they can’t wait to read! Email and get ready for a rewarding volunteer experience! Below is the information for the fair:

Mon., April 16 - Fri., April 20

8 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

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More Information Available on New Oasis Program

GWA was excited to educate parents and families last week on the school’s new global studies initiative, which includes a partnership with New Oasis International Education. New Oasis helps place students from China in partner schools throughout the United States. The presentation was given by our own Femke Cote and New Oasis’s Chad Webb.

The presentation further explained how the initiative will work, showing how families can choose to open up their homes to Chinese exchange students. “Hosting a Chinese student is a wonderful opportunity for families to share our American culture and traditions with an international student,” said one of GWA’s newest parents, Tara Gill. She added that the program is one of the reasons she and her family decided to come to GWA.

If you were not able to attend last week’s meeting but are interested in learning more about the program or becoming a host family, please click here.

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Baseball Team Scores Big Win

Congratulations to the varsity baseball team for two big wins this week! They had a 5-4 region win over Providence Christian Academy and a 12-0 shut out against Hebron Christian Academy. Keep up the good work, boys!

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Boys Soccer Team Shuts Out Towns County

GWA is proud of the varsity boys soccer team for beating Towns County last week in an impressive 4-0 win.

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Fencing Team Finishes Phenomenal First Season

The GWA fencing team finished their fantastic season on a high note with a strong showing at the On Guard High School Fencing League Championship at Brookwood High Scool this past weekend. GWA earned a trophy for third place for the season in Women’s Saber Team thanks to the efforts of both Odile Vidrine and Tatiana Bolds.

Here are the results of the final tournament:

Evelyn Echols – Women’s Epee Championship: 5th; Overall Season Rankings: 4th

Odile Vidrine – Women’s Saber Championship: 2nd; Overall Season Rankings: 3rd

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This Picture is Worth 1,000 Words... And $500

Congratulations to Kaitlyn Rutledge for winning first place in the Annual Juried Art Show at The Dermatology Associates of Georgia. Kaitlyn won a $500 prize for her work. GWA would also like to congratulate Wallis Lucas for her Honorable Mention in the show.

Oh Say Can You "Sing"

The "Star Spangled Banner" has become so cemented in our nation’s sports identity that it is hard to think of one without the other. This season, Dawgs360 had the pleasure of showcasing our talented chorus, band and general music students before the varsity baseball games.

Singers have included students such as fourth grader Gabby Rainford, eighth grader Kilissa Gasaway, ninth grader Grace An George (pictured above) and others.

Eighth grader Kilissa Gasaway’s rendition of the national anthem brought tears to patrons' eyes. Kilissa’s chorus instructor Ammie Bruce said, “I am honored to work with such talents as [Kilissa].”

Gabby’s enthusiastic singing was also a crowd favorite. “I am proud that Gabby shares her lovely voice at GWA activities,” said her general music teacher Debbie Dyer.

Join us for the remaining baseball games to support our music students as well as our varsity baseball team. Find the baseball schedule here.

A Play "Witch" We Know You'll Enjoy!

The cast members of GWA’s spring production “Salem’s Daughter” have spent many afternoons preparing for their performances set to be in April. The production portrays the progression over several years of seven young residents of Salem, Massachusetts. Drawing parallels from the conflicts of the 1600’s witch trials and issues people face in present-day, the play explores decisions and how their consequences can affect the rest of someone’s life.

The play will be held on April 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. in the Lower Gym. The cast looks forward to seeing you there!

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Why Dress to Impress, When You Can Dress to Inspire?

In a small amount of time, two GWA alumni have been making a big impact on the world of fashion. Sisters Nicole - class of 2011 (left) and Taylor Bell - class of 2014 (right) opened their own clothing store Brunch Babe in June of 2017, and business has been booming ever since. Brunch Babe is an online boutique which sells everything from shirts and shoes to sweaters and jewelry.

When asked what inspired them to open the store, Nicole said, “We have always had a love for fashion, but this is not what compelled us to create our own clothing store. Our brand is centered around making a difference in people’s lives while sharing our passions along the way.” She added that these passions include helping boost girls’ confidence through creating a perfect outfit or inspiring women to chase their dreams by daring to be different.

To read more about Brunch Babe's significant growth or about Nicole's advice to GWA students with an entrepreneurial spirit, click here.

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So Many Choices

GWA’s Career Day provided a unique opportunity for students to consider a variety of career options. The afternoon began with opening speech given by Dr. Carlos Ortiz, a retired Professor Emeritus from Kennesaw State University’s Department of Civil Engineering Technology. In his speech, Dr. Ortiz told students they should not feel pressured to select a career in order to please others. Without interest in a field, they are likely to quit when it becomes difficult. He added there is more to life than earning a lot of money, and students would likely be happier if their goal was to improve society or build lasting personal relationships.

After the opening program, students attended three 30-minute sessions, with professionals speaking about their field of study. There were also general sessions offered, including “Attention-Grabbing Résumés,” “Behaviors that Make You a Valued Employee,” “Tips for Starting and Running Your Own Business” and “Women in the Workplace.” Other sessions were designed for seniors with offerings such as “Personal Finances in College,” “First Aid for your First Year in College” and “Quick, Cheap & Healthy Meals.” Both students and presenters had many positive things to say about the event. Students said they just wished they could attend more than three sessions.

This event would not have been possible without the cooperation of the faculty, especially those who shared their classrooms. Plans are already in the works for the next Career Fair! To learn more about the incredible people who made this event possible, please click here.

May 22 - Colleges That Change Lives Fair

CTCL is a group of small, liberal arts, primarily undergraduate, teaching colleges that are regionally well known and have graduate school placement rates better than most Ivy League schools.

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