In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

February 21, 2019

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • Middle School Dance: Feb. 22
  • Lucky Dawg Gala and Benefit Auction: Feb. 23
  • First/Second Grade Family Folk Dancing Night: Feb. 28
  • Re-Enrollment Contracts Due: March 1
  • Coffee with Admin: March 7
  • Spring Portraits: March 8
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Calling All Bulldogs!

George Walton Academy and Dawgs 360 are honored to host this year’s Relay For Life of Walton County event on Friday, May 3. In the spirit of this incredible endeavor to raise funds to fight cancer, Dawgs 360 is putting the call out for a multitude of volunteers!


Teams of friends and families, businesses, local vendors, churches and schools will gather on our campus. They will create “campsites” along the track while the community visits to support the event. To kick off the night, local survivors will be cheered on as they take the first official lap around the track. Also, local bands and performers will take to the stages to provide live entertainment throughout the night.


Director of Dawgs 360, Elizabeth McDonel, is coordinating the effort to organize volunteers for shifts beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Friday and ending at 1 a.m. on Saturday. Duties include serving as a host for the Survivor Dinner, welcoming the community, giving directions, loading and unloading items and clean up. Please consider taking a shift to support this impactful community-wide event. All parents, faculty, staff and students are welcome to join our army of volunteers. Your support will make a difference in the lives of many!


Please save the date (May 3) and make plans to get involved! Contact Elizabeth McDonel for more information and to sign up, emcdonel@gwa.com. Let’s do this, Bulldogs!


Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart. – Elizabeth Andrew

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Get Outside and Explore!

GWA parent and outdoor enthusiast Laura Powell gave third-grade students a first-hand account of her hiking adventures on the Appalachian Trail. The well-known trail runs from Georgia to Maine. She has hiked it on four occasions for a total trek of 80 miles- the portion of the trail in Georgia.


Mrs. Powell shared photos of her hikes while describing the plants, mountains and camps. Students had the chance to put on her 32 pound (although not fully packed) backpack, as she explained the contents she carries for survival along the trail- including water, water filtration, sleeping bags, bear spray, clothes, a tent, hiking poles and more. This presentation ties in with the third grade study of U.S. regions. They have completed the Southeast unit and are now learning about the Northeast. Mrs. Powell finished her presentation by encouraging the kids to get outdoors and explore. Great advice for all!

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Project Achievement

GWA fifth graders recently completed 4-H Project Achievement reports and made presentations before their peers. The topics of choice ranged from basketball and lacrosse to marine biology and video game addiction. Fifth graders became experts on their subject as they shared interesting facts, personal experiences, creative posters and props pertaining to their topic. This exercise gave students a chance to work on presentation skills and the option to take part in the upcoming 4-H Walton County Project Achievement. Great job, fifth grade!

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High School Summer Classes

Looking to get ahead academically? Exciting opportunities are in the works for upper school students this summer! GWA will offer summer classes at no cost to our enrolled students for full academic credit. A course catalog will be available the first week of March to currently enrolled students.


These courses provide an opportunity for students to customize their learning experience at GWA. "The George Walton experience should be tailored to the individual student needs and interest." Dr.Dolan commented. " For some, summer may be the perfect time to get ahead." Additional details to follow. Please contact Peggy Jordan, Registrar at pjordan@gwa.com.

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A Match Made In Alabama?

by Laura Nabors


Connecting students and college is similar to dating. It’s all about a good match! It was fitting that eleven GWA juniors toured colleges on Valentine’s Day. Our students went on first dates with four unique universities in Alabama. They learned about admission criteria, the wide range of majors offered, scholarship opportunities, Greek life programs, collegiate athletics, and much more.


This dating journey took us from the plains of Alabama to the heart of downtown Birmingham, from the Black Warrior River to hilly suburbia. Students drank the lemonade at Toomer’s Drugs, an Auburn tradition since 1896. They explored Auburn’s massive rec center with the nation’s longest indoor running track. At UAB, we ate high on the hog at Full Moon Barbecue inside the Hill Student Center before watching the Blazers defeat Marshall in a close game of women’s basketball. The gentlemen on our trip participated in the half-time contest of Simon Says and the winner was handsomely rewarded with a student’s favorite prize, a free t-shirt.


We kicked off the second day of our tour early in Tuscaloosa, a.k.a. T-Town. Students were blown away at the University of Alabama by the enormous buildings lining the quad and were impressed with its apartment style dorms and underground parking deck. They heard the historic Denny Chimes live in action. At Samford, the Caf provided sustenance of their traditional Friday fried chicken and homemade mac-n-cheese. The collegiate Bulldogs discussed their values, the balance of academics and faith, not compromising one for the other.


These tours provided GWA juniors with insight and interaction. The college admission journey is essential in determining the destination. For some, it may only end at the first date with a particular college; for others, it could lead to something more serious. These students now have a better idea of what type of school they would like to marry and what these schools, in return, are looking for in qualified candidates. War Eagle, Go Blazers, Roll Tide, & Go Bulldogs!

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GWA's Department of College Counseling is seeking professionals who are interested in speaking to students about their careers. If you are available to volunteer on March 15, 2019 from 12 to 3:30 p.m. please contact Mr. Michael Clancy at mclancy@gwa.com. Our students could greatly benefit from your expertise, experience and knowledge- so please consider joining us!

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Williams Selected To Be A Thoroughbred Incentive Program Youth Ambassador

Rhiannon Williams, ninth grade, has been selected by the Jockey Club to be a 2019 Thoroughbred Incentive Program Youth Ambassador. See http://tjctip.com/About/TBYPAM


Only 13 ambassadors are selected each year from the USA or Canada to represent the program. The goal is to highlight careers for Thoroughbred horses after their racing careers have ended. Rhiannon started riding at just 18 months old and got her first Thoroughbred when she was only ten years old, Thoroughbred horses are well known not to be the easiest of breeds. Rhiannon and her horse ‘Ossi’, have successfully competed in many disciplines, dressage, hunters, jumpers and combined training. It is rare to find a horse and rider combination that has been the year end champion in so many different disciplines as this pair.


In addition to becoming a Jockey Club youth ambassador, in January 2019, Rhiannon passed her Pony Club C2 certification. This is the highest certification before national exams. The C2 certification is split into three exams. The first is horse management, the second is dressage and the third is jumping, both stadium and cross country. We are so proud of her equine achievements!

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This Friday, Feb. 22, from 7-10 p.m., we will hold the annual Middle School Dance. The theme this year is a luau. Students are welcome to dress in Hawaiian shirts, shorts (of appropriate length), and sandals, but students are not required to dress for the theme. This dance is a relaxed, hang out with friends event – it is not a “date night.” The goal is for everyone to come and have a good time!


We hope to see everyone there!

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Lower School Spring Photo Day Is Coming!

You should receive spring portrait pre-order forms in your child’s bookbag THIS WEEK. March 8 is spring portrait day. This opportunity is for LOWER SCHOOL STUDENTS ONLY! Send your child with their spring clothes and payment order form if you want them to have their picture taken.

If you want a sibling photo, walk your children in and take them to the photographer at the beginning of the school day. We will make sure they get back to class. We cannot find them separately and pull them out of class for photos together later in the day. It is too disruptive to their schedules and too difficult for us to do logistically.


This service is totally optional. Feel free to take advantage of these photos, but you are under no obligation to have them taken. We are giving plenty of advance notice so you don’t miss out. These photos are sold as pre-orders ONLY! If you lose your form, we will have copies available in the front office.

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We need YOU!

Opportunities for Involvement:


Host/Hostess Founders Day:

Morning of Fri. March 29


Relay for Life Volunteers:

Set- Up: Fri. May 3 from 9-1 p.m. & 4-6 p.m.

Host/Hostess’ for Survivor Dinner Clean- Up: 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

Golf Carts and Drivers: Fri. May 3


Teacher Appreciation Week:

Week of May 6-10

We need breakfast bakers, mailbox treats, desserts for appreciation lunch and small tokens of appreciation!


Please email Elizabeth McDonel at emcdonel@gwa.com to get involved!

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Barcelona Exchange

There will be a meeting for any families interested in participating in our Barcelona partner school exchange TONIGHT, Thursday, Feb. 21st at 6:30pm in the cafeteria (note location change). This exchange will be the experience of a lifetime and is open to students who will be freshman in the 2019-2020 school year. If accepted into the program, students will host a Spanish student for one month in the Fall, and then travel to Barcelona during Winter Term (January) to stay with the same student they hosted. Questions? Contact Femke Côté at fcote@gwa.com.
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Students Can Expand Their Horizons In Croatia

There will be an interest meeting for parents of students interested in traveling to Croatia with GWA in June 2020 on Thursday, February 28th at 6:30pm in the Upper School Commons. This trip is open to all upper school students in the 2019-2020 school year, and we are excited to partner with Our Human Family to tailor and create this experience. Questions? Contact Femke Côté at fcote@gwa.com.

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Fine Arts Collaboration

Our Fine Arts classes are collaborating on production of the upcoming dance narrative titled “Fairyland.” Visual art students are busy creating the backdrop and props while 25 dance students rehearse for the April performance.
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GWA Band Members Selected for Honor Band

Congratulations to all of our fantastic young band students who auditioned back in December for the opportunity to attend the Georgia Music Educators Associations District 14 Honor Band Festival this past weekend. Our hardest workers push themselves and compete against the best in our area and are rewarded for their outstanding hard work and amazing accomplishments in the High School age group. Over 900 High School students auditioned for placement in this year's honor band and only 175 were chosen.


The following students represented GWA in this year's GMEA District 14 High School Honor Band this weekend: Alex Aull, Cole Aukes, Brody Lindsey, Bailey Croker, Brooks Dokes, Madison Smith, Claire Volk, Alex Carrillo, Russell Moore, Julie Cato, Julian Brown, Gabi Cason, Barbara Hammon, Jolie Lanier, Eli Scornik, Emma Barley, Gracie Wood, Will Bowick, Daniel Harkins and Lydia Akin.

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Lower School Art on Display

Be sure to check out the creative works by GWA lower school art students- now on display at the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts located at 205 S. Broad Street. The show runs through February 28. Congratulations to all of our talented young artists!
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MANDATORY UPPER SCHOOL ATHLETIC MEETING


On Thurs. April 25 from 6 p.m - 7:30 p.m. there will be a MANDATORY Athletic Meeting for all rising upper school students and their parents who plan on participating in a GWA athletic program during the 2019-2020 school year. The meeting will be held in the cafeteria.


Areas that will be covered include general information- “The Dawg Way”, strength training, recruiting and team parents.

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Equestrian Team Qualifies For Zone Finals

The GWA equestrian team competed very well at the Region One Finals with the high school team winning the championship and advancing to Zone Four Finals in Pensacola as one of 12 qualifying teams. Sarah Blackstone and Taylor Jesel advance individually as well. The middle school team won reserve in their division.


Congrats to these skilled riders and good luck at Finals!

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Wrestlers Place At State

George Walton Academy wrestlers wrapped up an impressive season last weekend with an overall fifth place finish at the GHSA State Championship Wrestling Tournament in Macon. Juniors Beau Mitchell (126), Chris Sperin (138), and Patrick Morris (152) all placed second while freshman Perry Jake Stone (120) placed fourth and senior Darius Barnum (170) placed fifth. Congratulations to our GWA wrestlers and coaches!
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Diamond Dogs Are Off To A Great Season!

The GWA Varsity Baseball team has started the 2019 season off with a bang! Opening day the Bulldogs pounced on rival Walnut Grove winning 11-2.


"The players are really feeding off each other,” Coach Todd Shelnutt said about their game against Walnut Grove. So far the Varsity Bulldogs are 3-1. With 6 Seniors this year, the team is working really hard to get ready for the rest of the season and upcoming region games. Please come out and show your support for our GWA Baseball teams.

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Ushering in a New Year

Justin Cohen (’15) recently represented the United States in the Chinese New Year celebrations in Hong Kong on behalf of the Bluecoats. The Bluecoats were selected by the government of Hong Kong to be featured as one of the best acts across the world representing each country. Congratulations, Justin!

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Today's In Focus is Proudly Sponsored by Apex Painting & Decorating

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