In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

December 5, 2019

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • Upcoming Performing Arts Events: see below
  • Baseball Parent Meeting: Dec. 5 @ 6:30 p.m.
  • Christmas Tree Presentation: Dec. 6 @ 9 a.m.
  • Belize Parent Meeting: Dec. 9 @ 6:30 p.m.
  • Upper School Lacrosse Sign Up: Dec. 10 @ 6 p.m.
  • Youth Sports Parent Meeting: Dec. 12 @ 7 p.m.
  • Early Dismissal: Dec. 20
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Time to Shine

Christmastime gives our students an opportunity to celebrate the holidays through music, dance and theater. It’s a chance to showcase their talent, creativity and skills, as well as a chance to entertain, follow their passions, take their abilities to the next level, be a part of a group or try something new. The lessons learned through performing arts are invaluable and will serve these students well as they move forward.


The performing arts are an ideal complement to our academics. Students have the option to participate in band, piano, chorus, dance, and drama. They not only learn to play an instrument or perform a new genre of dance, they develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills while building confidence.


GWA junior and Band Sergeant Eli Scornik describes the impact of being a member of the GWA band, “There are many important skills I have learned as part of the band program. The most notable being the skills of an effective leader, primarily to my peers of varying age groups.”


Over the next two weeks, GWA will offer performances from band, middle school drama, dance and lower school music. As parents, grandparents, friends and faculty members, we look forward to these Christmas performances, knowing these students have put in the work and they will give it their best. We hope you will make plans to attend a few of these events and support the efforts of our musicians, dancers and actors. While you are enjoying the magnificent sounds of our band or laughing during the middle school comedy production, consider the life skills and knowledge these students are gaining from their involvement in the performing arts. As a school community, we will continue to expand and enhance our programs and look forward to continuing a tradition of offering quality performing arts opportunities for students of all ages.


Please check out the schedule of upcoming events below and come out to see our students shine!


Brian Cole

Associate Head of School, Fine Arts

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Dec. 5 – Marching Band Performance - Downtown Monroe Parade - 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 6 - “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (Dance) - Lower Gym - 7 p.m.

Dec. 6 – Christmas Tree Presentation – Choirs, Middle School Chorus, Sign Language Classes, GWA Bands – Nicholson Center – 9 a.m.

Dec. 10 – “Billy Shakespeare's Christmas Extravaganza and Traveling Freak Show” – (Middle School Drama) – Auditorium – 6 p.m.

Dec. 12 – 3rd & 4th Grade Christmas Musical – Lower Gym - 6 p.m.

Dec. 12 – GWA Bands Christmas Concert – Nicholson Center – 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16 – 5th Grade Chorus Performance – Cafeteria – 6:30 p.m.

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Exploring the Past in Charleston

Recently, GWA fifth graders traveled to the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina. They were able to explore different historic places involved in the Civil War. Students enjoyed a ferry boat ride to Fort Sumter where the very first shots of the war were fired. At the Fort they participated in lowering the flag for the night. This was an incredibly special moment for all of our students, the pride and respect for our country could be felt by everyone.


After visiting Fort Sumter, students experienced a guided tour of Boone Plantation. On the tour they learned about the harsh, and very sad reality of slavery before the war. They also learned about cash crops and how plantations played a huge role in the Southern states’ economy. Students also enjoyed experimenting with indigo to make their own tie-dyed cloth.


Next, the group visited the Hunley at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center where the submarine is being preserved since it was pulled out of the water in 2000. The Hunley was famous for being the first submarine to successfully take down an enemy ship in battle. After taking down a Union ship, the Hunley went missing and sat on the ocean floor for over a 100 years. Students were so excited to see the submarine, explore the museum, and find answers to the mystery of what made the ship sink that many years ago.


The class ended the trip with a horse and carriage ride of downtown Charleston! They were able to view the amazing beauty the city holds while learning more information about what makes it so historic! It was a fabulous trip!

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The PARC vs Berry’s Academic Success Center

By Clay Hardee, Peer Tutor


George Walton peer tutors recently toured Berry’s Academic Success Center. As I walked into the writing center it was down a big flight of stairs underneath the library that opened to a low-key, yet beautiful open center. The Berry tutoring center is not something that is easily visible as soon as you visit, unlike our PARC that is in the center of the main building. Even though it is not visible it is open and known by many on campus. Tutors hold seminars and allow students to come in to have meet and greets, making the idea of group studies more welcoming. Although we share that tradition, George Walton does not have the structure that Berry does. I believe the welcoming atmosphere of Berry is phenomenal and compares to that of GWA. They are set up beneath the library with lots of privacy which is ideal, until it gets packed. Both GWA and Berry receive a large quantity of students in the Peer Tutoring center; however, Berry has the space to maintain the large crowds. Much like their peer tutors, our tutors specialize in an academic area. It is wonderful that our center at GWA is like that of a college center.


As a peer tutoring center, we are always looking to improve and realize we have challenges including, limited space, scheduling, and a small peer tutor base. Allotting these few changes could make for a much more successful tutoring center. Also, we were able to bring back new ideas to incorporate in our center such as exam reviews and classroom visits. I hope to use my interaction with Berry tutors to better improve the PARC and the experience for other students.

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GWA Fights Hunger

Every year at Christmastime, GWA places large barrels throughout campus to collect canned goods for our neighbors in need through the Empty Stocking Fund organization. The homerooms in lower and middle school that collected the most cans receive a pizza party and the upper school student who contributed the most canned goods receives a gift card. Congratulations to the winners!


Lower School: Mrs. McDaniel’s class

Middle School: Mrs. Grimsley’s class

Upper School: Dominic Williams
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GWA Joins Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools

In November, GWA was welcomed into the Atlanta Area Association of Independent Schools. Membership in this organization will provide us with additional resources to share ideas among school management groups, including school heads and principals, admission directors, diversity coordinators, communications directors, and development directors, to name a few. Other goals of this organization are to provide a vision for the future of independent school education in our area and to provide principles of best practice.

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Holidays are Happy, Holidays are Hard

By Lindsey Bailey, Lower School Counselor


December is upon us, and for most, this season heralds a joyous mood. But is can also be a hard time of year for many people. Holidays are the time of year we long to be with family and loved ones, but it is also the time that their absence is most notable. Families experience grief and loss in many ways: long distance, strained relationships, an unexpected diagnosis, unfulfilled dreams, job change/loss, separation/divorce, or death of a loved one.


Fortunately, our hearts can hold joy and sadness simultaneously (if you don’t believe me, go watch Pixar’s Inside Out). But try not to hold either in for too long - share your happiness and your struggles with someone this holiday season. Give yourself permission to not have it all together because, despite appearances, nobody really does.


If the holidays are hard for you, do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your family. It is okay to say no to that holiday party or to put your tree up late... or not at all. Take a break, have a good cry, read a book, watch a Hallmark movie, go for a walk, journal, or talk to someone. And if your holidays are all happy this year, reach out to someone you know who is having a hard time. Lend a listening ear, write a card, or bake some cookies to show that you care. I promise you won’t catch their sadness, but you may share a little of your joy.
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Please click HERE for details on exam week (12/16-12/20) - including dismissal times for all grades.
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Yearbooks are $85. Please send in a check before Dec. 20 – made payable to GWA, attn: Liz Jones OR order online by Jan. 1 at yearbookordercenter.com.

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Christmas Recitals

By Corrie Beth Noll, Piano Teacher


This weekend, nearly 90 piano students presented three fantastic performances on our GWA campus. Students presented collaborative works, solo works, and helped to provide entertainment during our Gingerbread Christmas event. We are so proud of the hard work done by these students, and are grateful to be a part of an amazing Fine Arts program.

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Merry Music

The Band has several exciting performances coming up, starting with the Monroe Christmas Parade tonight! The Jr. Bulldog Band and the GWA Marching Bulldog Band will both be performing in this downtown event. It will be the Jr. Bulldog Band’s marching debut! The symphonic winds will be featured during the Christmas tree presentation this Friday, performing an array of Christmas carols, including everyone’s favorite- Christmas Sing Along! Lastly, the band will round off their holiday season with their Christmas Concert, Thursday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the Nicholson Center. Come celebrate the holiday cheer, with four fantastic performances from each band class!

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GWA Dance Presents Holiday Favorite

The GWA dance company classes will be performing their rendition of the Dr. Seuss classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” on Friday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. in the lower school gym.


The show will include middle and upper school students as well as lower school students who participate in our Beyond the Bell program. Megan Sims and her middle school art classes designed the set and Brian Cole and his students helped with various building projects for the show. Dance styles that will be included are hip hop, jazz, musical theatre, Hawaiian, lyrical and swing dance. The students have worked very hard and we hope to see a great turnout. You won't be disappointed!

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Jingle Bell Jukebox

Third- and fourth-grade students will perform the musical, “Jingle Bell Jukebox” on Thursday evening, Dec. 12 at 6:00 p.m. in the lower school gym. Many familiar Christmas novelty songs will be performed ending with the re-enactment of the Nativity and the cast and audience singing Silent Night. All are welcome to attend and admission is free.


Merry & Bright

Fifth-grade chorus students present, “Merry and Bright” on Monday, Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the GWA cafeteria. This is a varied collection of novelty and religious Christmas songs. The public and our GWA family is invited to our festive night of song. The concert is free.

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Drama Dawgs Present Christmas Comedy

The GWA Middle School Drama Dawgs proudly present a collection of three Christmas-themed short comedies in which elves go on strike, a shameless huckster attempts to sell the holiday, and two Texas kids try to get their first white Christmas. Hope to see you there!

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Grappling with Success

GWA varsity wrestling hosted Grayson and Athens Christian in a rare home tournament last night before a packed house. They came up short against Grayson- losing 47-26, giving up 30 points in forfeits. In the individual head-head matches GWA was 5-4. Against Athens Christian, the Bulldogs were 5-1 in head-head matches and won the dual 42-30. Beau Mitchell, Ryan Denhardt, Chris Sperin and Patrick Morris were undefeated on the night. Beach Mitchell is 4 wins away from his 100th career varsity win. Way to go, Bulldogs!
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*Dawgs 360 members - be sure to have your Dawgs 360 mobile ticket handy for quick entrance into the game, otherwise gate workers will look up your name on the membership list. The ticket was sent out by Mrs. McDonel via email when you signed up for Dawgs 360.
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Be in the Know!

GWA winter sports are in full swing! Click the calendar link above to check out upcoming sporting events including swimming, basketball and wrestling.

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A Dawgs 360 Favorite Event Returns!

Does your chili have what it takes to win the $100 prize! There are only 20 spots available, so email Elizabeth McDonel to enter at emcdonel@gwa.com. The event will begin at 6 p.m. with bingo calling at 6:45 p.m. This evening is a fun night full of games, music, prizes, food and great company!


Volunteers are always a part of the fun- so email Elizabeth McDonel to get involved with this year's Chili Cook Off and Bingo Night!

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Alumni Holiday Get Together

GWA alumni are invited to celebrate the season with us in cafeteria on Friday, Dec. 13 before our home varsity basketball games. Stop in to catch up with your GWA friends and enjoy some food and Christmas cheer.
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Today's In Focus is proudly sponsored by Suburban Roofers. Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program? Contact Jeanie Beach at jbeach@gwa.com or call 678-635-3812.
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