In Focus @ GWA
A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy
"It is more blessed to give than receive." Acts 20:35
Article by Tina Scott
Third grade teacher
During this holiday season, the third graders are enjoying a special visitor! She isn’t from the North Pole and doesn’t check on the student’s behavior; instead, she is an angel who wants to share the true meaning of Christmas with the children.
“Gabby” has shared that Christmas is not all about decorating, baking and getting gifts. It is about giving of yourself to others. She has been teaching the children that giving doesn’t always come with a price tag; we can also give with our time, talents and encouraging words. So far this month the third grade students have given over 1500 cans to our canned food drive. They have also helped fill 40 shoeboxes for children in third world countries who are in need. Last week they made Christmas cards and delivered them to the cafeteria and custodial staff, and they are very excited this week to sing Christmas carols and pass out candy canes to some of the high school classes.
The children are really beginning to grasp the idea that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Third grader Morgan Inman summed it up by saying, “I like giving to others because it is fun, and it makes me feel good!”
Why We Give....
GWA Remembers Steve Whitley
George Walton Academy students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered this weekend to share fond memories of a beloved member of the school family who passed away last week. Mr. Steve Whitley, former GWA High School Principal and Associate Headmaster, made a lasting impact on thousands of lives during his 23 years of service to George Walton Academy and his 37 years in education. Click HERE to read the tribute that GWA submitted to the Walton Tribune.
Pictured are Jessica and Sarah Jarrett with Mr. Whitley at the 2013 Commencement.
In Appreciation for Mr. Arthur Bowick
Some Not So Empty Stockings
George Walton is proud to have once again participated in the Walton County Empty Stocking Fund, providing enough cans to help over 500 Walton County families have a Christmas dinner that they would not otherwise be able to have. George Walton is the largest contributor to the Walton County Empty Stocking Fund.
We are so thankful to everyone who participated and donated. Mr. Reynold’s homeroom collected over 670 cans and collected the most cans in all of middle school. Mrs. Croker’s homeroom collected over 650 cans and was the lower school winner. Macy Bell donated over 500 cans and was the winner for high school. Thank you to our generous George Walton community for making a meaningful difference every Christmas season! If you are interested in learning more about the Empty Stocking Fund, click here.
GWA Brings Christmas Cheer to Great Oaks
If you had walked into Great Oaks Senior Living last week, chances are you would have seen lots of people young and old celebrating the Christmas season. One day the Interact Club went to Great Oaks, playing games and simply spending time with the residents there. Later in the week, the Beta Club, National Honor Society and Junior Classical League all teamed together to sing Christmas carols for the residents’ enjoyment.
Senior Susanna Grimsley said, “I really enjoyed seeing how much the residents appreciated us being there and visiting with them afterwards.”
Kaitlyn Rutledge Named Student of the Month
Congratulations to Kaitlyn Rutledge for being selected as the December Rotary Student of the Month. Kaitlyn is a member of National Honor Society, Beta Club and serves as the senior class president. She is also an AP Scholar and was a semi-finalist in the Governor’s Honors Program. Kaitlyn has been accepted into the University of Georgia and plans to study Sports Management to pursue a career as a sports marketing professional.
Kaitlyn selected Mrs. Karen Barrett as the December Teacher of the Month. Congratulations to both Kaitlyn and Mrs. Barrett!
Seniors Inspire Lower School Students with 3D Printing
Student Technology Leadership students Grant McDonel and Riley Watkins had the opportunity to teach third grade students about 3D printing, showing them 3D ornaments that the high school students have been creating for Christmas. Grant said, “I enjoyed seeing the kids’ faces light up when we told them that 3D printing allows you to design and create whatever you can imagine.”
So That's Why It Takes Congress So Long....
In an effort to better understand how Congressional Committees work to create bills on Capitol Hill, Mrs. Karen Barrett’s AP government class has been simulating the work of a committee, working on a bill to regulate the purchases of guns. Each student was a assigned a fictional member of Congress or a lobbyist and was given a biography showing their political party, state, constituent support, etc.
Mrs. Barrett said, “I enjoy watching the students as they question and challenge one another, discovering the frustration of trying to find a consensus that satisfies them personally, satisfies their constituents and keeps the support of donors and interest groups."
The students met for two hours in committee, questioning one another trying to shape an effective bill. The students will continue to work throughout the next week to finalize the bill.
“…We are used to preparing work and answering questions in class, but being able to communicate with each other in a formal setting revealed the difficulty in trying to pass a piece of legislation that pleases everyone. We now know why it takes Congress so long to get things done!” said AP government student Megan McGoldrick.
It's Beginning To Look Like Christmas
It's the "Sway" to Go
During a study of President Jefferson and President Madison, Mrs. Jennifer Houck’s seventh grade history students conducted research and led discussions on a variety of topics, such as the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812 and the history of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. After completing their research, students created presentations to share with the class using Sway, a Microsoft Office application which allows group all members to work on a project simultaneously.
Mrs. Houck said, “The students did a great job creating, presenting and working together!”
A "Rare" Experience at Emory University
On Dec. 6, Mrs. Jo Taylor’s AP literature class visited the Manuscript Archives and Rare Books Library of Emory University. After receiving an overview of the contents of the library, students enjoyed a day scouring rare and important manuscripts including pieces such as a first edition of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” and a 13th century Bible in Latin, handwritten on sheepskin. Reflecting on the experience, student Libby Lee McDaniel said that she could not stop thinking about her own future as a writer and the possibility that her voice also may be heard one day by another generation of students.
Let's Taco 'Bout It
Every business owner’s dream begins somewhere and for GWA students it might just start with a taco.
During an inter-disciplinary unit, sixth-grade students are teaming up to create and run small businesses. They are researching information about starting a business, the licenses and permits needed, as well as health codes and food standards for running a food truck. As part of a partnership, two students use their imaginations to work together to choose a name, design a logo, and create a slogan for their business.
This project focuses on encouraging students to create and design while applying problem-solving skills. Each student utilizes essential writing and math skills while collaborating with his or her business partner to produce a website and build a 3-D model of the business. Each team creates a website which includes descriptions of the business, as well as an interactive menu where their classmates can order. They use math skills to calculate the total for the orders and include the sales tax. Students also calculate the area and perimeter of their food trucks and for the equipment needed for the interior of the trucks.
At the end of this week, GWA parent Chris Collin will share his firsthand knowledge and experience with the students. Mr. Collin owns Johnny’s Pizza in Grayson, as well as The Strange Taco and The Local Republic, both in Lawrenceville. To culminate the project, Mr. Collin will return next Tuesday to serve lunch to the sixth grade, generously donated by The Strange Taco!
St. Lucia Makes a Visit to GWA
K4 students celebrated a fun and unique Scandinavian tradition this week with the help of K4 student Evillyn Campbell and her aunt Cyndy Moore. Each year on Dec. 13, Scandinavian countries celebrate St. Lucia Day, which is a “feast day” celebrating the Advent season. According to tradition, St. Lucia wears a crown of candles on her head to symbolize bringing the light of Christmas and food to her loved ones. To celebrate the holiday, Evillyn helped tell the Christmas story and presented her classmates with snickerdoodles.
Mrs. Moore, whose daughter Emily graduated from GWA in 2012, said, “This is something I have done for my children every year, and I enjoy the opportunity to continue the tradition with my niece.”
To learn more about St. Lucia Day, and how different countries all over the world celebrate Christmas, click here.
Teacher Goes Extra Mile to Help Students Improve Test Scores
One teacher has certainly gone above and beyond to ensure that his students do as well as possible in his class. In an effort to make learning more accessible for his students, physics teacher Mr. John Welsch created a YouTube channel available with lessons to give students extra resources when studying for tests. Mr. Welsch realized that students needed extra help at home when studying and that some students were not able to seek afterschool help due to extra-curricular commitments. He created this channel in the hope that extra video lessons would help students better understand the material.
Mr. Welsch comes in before and after school and on weekends to film these videos on his iPhone, and then uploads and edits the videos on YouTube. He believes the videos are also useful for students as a refresher - to review information they may have learned at the beginning of a semester when studying for their cumulative finals.
Geometry Meets Gingerbread
Equestrian Team Places in Recent Tournament
Despite a weather-postponed show and frigid weather, both the high school and middle school teams brought home the Reserve Championship title this weekend! Avery Jesel also won the Sportsmanship Award. Go Dogs!
Swim Dawgs End Season With a Big Splash
The middle school swim team wrapped up a very successful season last Wednesday, Dec. 6 at Riverside Military Academy. The highlights from the meet include:
Charlie Stout – 1st place in 50 yd. butterfly
Sarah Digby – 1st place in 100 yd. individual medley
Baylor Lingner, Jake Stout, Charlie Stout, Logan Thornton – 1st place in 200 yd. medley relay
Congratulations, Swim Dawgs!
Alumni Elected to Serve City of Monroe
Congratulations to GWA parent and alumnus John Howard who will serve as Monroe’s next mayor. Mayor-elect Howard is a member of the George Walton Academy Class of 1988, his daughter Zan Katherine graduated from GWA in 2017 and his daughter Anna is in 11th grade.
“In a way, GWA couldn’t lose as the other candidate is also one of our own – GWA parent Sandra Shurling,” said Headmaster Dr. Dan Dolan. “We applaud all those with the courage to put themselves in the public arena, investing their time and often own resources, to serve the greater community. It takes courage to run for public office, to stand for something and make your voice heard in a constructive, positive and loving way. They set a fine example of how we all have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others.”
We would also like to congratulate Ross Bradley, GWA class of 2007, who was elected to Monroe City Council District 3 in November, and is pictured above with Mayor-elect Howard.
The Power of the PSAT
By Michael Clancy, Director of College Counseling
The GWA counseling team is always looking for the best ways to equip and empower our students to ensure college and career readiness. For example, we believe it is important to set aside a school day for our students in eighth through 11th grade to take the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test, commonly known as the PSAT. The experience of taking the PSAT is good practice for the actual SAT, and these preliminary scores provide powerful insight for improvement.
Scores will go home next week and we encourage students and parents to keep several points in mind. Just looking at the score and at the percentile will not lead to improvement. There is a lot more to the PSAT score report of which many students may not be aware:
· The entire back page shows the correct answer to each question, the question’s difficulty, and a subscore showing the skill being assessed.
· Score reports are returned with the test booklets which allow students to review the questions they missed. Sometimes, students see the error right away, but there are times when it’s not as clear why a certain response is correct and another is incorrect.
· If students want to improve their scores, the most important part of the back page is the blue box that contains their access code. With their access code, students can go online for detailed explanations as to why one answer is correct and why other choices were incorrect.
Understanding the 2017 PSAT is just the first step in improving one’s scores. On page three of the score report, the test taker is given suggestions on how to improve his or her score. The College Board, the creators of the PSAT, SAT and AP tests, has partnered with the Khan Academy to offer free SAT preparation. Again, with the access code from the blue box, students can register with Khan Academy for an analysis of their PSAT results, as well as a personalized improvement plan. As an added incentive, the College Board has recently announced awards for students who use the Khan Academy for at least ten hours between a PSAT and SAT or between two SATs, and improve their scores by 100 points.
There are other useful tools available online. One is the AP Predictor, which makes recommendations about which AP courses a student should consider taking based on the type of questions the student answered correctly on the PSAT. By using their access code, students can set up an account through which they can register for the SAT and even research colleges.
In reading other Counselor's Corner articles, you know that college application deadlines keep getting earlier and earlier. Waiting until one’s senior year to take the SAT is not recommended. Students should plan to have at least one SAT under their belts by the end of their junior year. As always, we are here for guidance. Please call on our team for assistance or answers to any questions.
*Reminder for Juniors*
In collaboration with GISA and College Board, GWA will administer the SAT on the school's campus on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. This on-site testing is open to GWA students only and offers the advantage of taking the test at a known location and with test administrators who are familiar to you. The format of the test is SAT +Writing. The cost is $67, and checks should be made payable to George Walton Academy and brought to the Guidance and College Counseling Office no later than Friday, January 5.
As some of you may or may not know, Southern California this past week was devastated by apocalyptic-like wildfires. I grew up in one of the small towns that was nearly completely destroyed while I had to watch my friends lose everything from afar, heartbroken. My neighbors' homes were burned to the ground. All that was left was charred remnants of what was once their homes and their homes' concrete foundations.
Two hours before the fire burned down a quarter of my old neighborhood, my mom was talking on the phone with a friend who lives there speaking only with slight concern and by no means with concern about the absolute worst happening. Two hours later the absolute worst happened. Our life-long friends' homes were burned down in a matter of seconds giving them no time to prepare, no time to save their family heirlooms, no time to save irreplaceable photos, and no time to save anything except bare essentials if they were lucky. Hundred year old oaks were scorched as if they were nothing. Homes didn't even slow down the blaze`s momentum. But this wasn`t just happening in my old town of Bonsall, multiple fires burned and destroyed everything in their paths all over Southern California decimating dozens of communities including a retirement community and horse communities who lost their hundreds of horses in the fires. These people - my friends - need some help, and they could use a bit of a Christmas miracle. Links to places you can donate are down below; every dollar is greatly appreciated, and counts and from the bottom of all of our hearts to those who donate: thank you.
https://unitedwayla.nationbuilder.com/socal_wildfire_fund Efforts go towards all of the areas affected
https://www.gofundme.com/lilac-fire-yang-family-home-farm Efforts go towards my best friend`s grandparents
https://www.gofundme.com/hulsizer-lilac-fire-big-red-rebuild Efforts go towards a couple who was my neighbor