In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

September 10, 2020

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • School Pictures: Sept. 16 & 17 (details below)
  • Virtual Counselor Chat: Sept. 23 @ 6:30 p.m. (see below)
  • Yearbook Price Increase: Sept. 19
  • Senior Yearbook Page Deadline: Oct. 1
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Marching to a Different Beat

The impact of COVID-19 and its necessary precautions have not precluded our performing arts students from doing what they do best. Our band, dance, drama, and chorus classes have adapted and continue to move forward with learning, creative expression, and the ability to entertain while remaining safe and healthy.


Director of Bands Christian Smith explained new practices for our student musicians, “We have altered our breathing exercises and warm up routines. We have all the students get in a large circle and face outward and away from everyone, so we don't push anything towards one another. We also have expanded our warm-up circle to get more distance between all of us, to help us stay safe.”


The GWA Marching Bulldog Band has been working hard to keep all members up and running during these COVID-19 days. Band students wear masks during all practices while learning their drill sets and anytime they are not playing their instruments. They wear face coverings in the stands during football games so they can cheer on the Bulldogs and reduce the risk of spreading germs to one another. Mr. Smith noted, “It has been a challenge to keep all the students in masks and maintain distance because they are such a family, but it has definitely been worth it to be able to continue coming to school and having in-person band classes as well as after-school marching band practices.”


During the fall semester, drama students will be trained in Oral Interpretation. Oral Interpretation is the performing of literature aloud to an audience with a single performer narrating and acting out all characters. This unique art form allows the students to continue developing characters and staging scenes while being able to safely practice social distancing. Teacher Paula Gerhardt said, “This also allows students to continue working on their performance independently if we ever need to resume distance learning.”


Ms. Gerhardt is working to grow our middle and upper school chorus programs, but COVID-19 has prompted her classes to hit the pause button on singing. She is hopeful about the return to normalcy, “Once we get COVID behind us, our goal is to grow our choral program and begin looking at singing at venues in New York City, entering competitions, and collaborating within our other arts programs.” Meanwhile, there is plenty to learn as students focus on music theory, rhythm, and song writing.


Dance classes are in full swing this semester. Dance teacher Genie Wiggins said, “The dancers have adapted well to the circumstances, wearing masks and social distancing as much as our stage will permit.” Students recently completed their first jazz and ballet units of the year. They used newly-acquired movement terms to create their very own dance compositions. Additionally, dance students are learning popular line dances (a great activity for social distancing!) and are in the process of creating their very own line dances. The advanced company classes are busy brainstorming ideas for their upcoming virtual Halloween performance, as video performances will be the norm in the months ahead.


Lower school music teacher Debbie Dyer is focusing on movement and rhythm in her classes. By using rhythm sticks, beat buddies, scarves, dance and bucket drumming, she is teaching music in new and exciting ways. By learning to speak rhymes and poems, her students are still deepening music proficiency and developing important listening skills. Mrs. Dyer is adopting a positive attitude about the changes in her class. “Students take their cues from us. It’s about our attitude and how we present these changes. If we say it’s not hard, it’s just new, then we can take the opportunity to find new ways to experience music.”


Mr. Smith summed up the way forward for our performing arts students, “We realize that the precautions and protocols we're taking are crucial and are well worth it - if it allows us to do what we love and perform our hearts out.”

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Talk of the Town

By Courtney Croker


Seventh graders wrapped up the geography unit in social studies. The students were able to do a deep dive into their own communities and put what they had learned into a presentation to share with their classmates. They researched why their town was developed and discovered lots of new things about where they live. They did such a great job sharing what they had discovered with their classmates. Learning about where we are from helps us relate what we learned in our unit to our real lives. It’s so valuable for the students to have a personal connection to the information they are learning. We will continue to learn more about geography as we move through our units in World History. The more you know, the more you grow!

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Give Me Shelter

By Lyn Rawlins


Fourth-grade students started the year in social studies by learning about ancient civilizations and Native Americans. They researched how the environment, economy, climate, and natural resources of each region affected how different tribes lived, and how the Native Americans had to adapt to their particular environments. Each student built a model shelter using mostly items found in nature like the Native Americans would have used. They also gave reports on their tribe including all of the above information. Great job, fourth grade!

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Time to Prep

On October 3, many of our junior and senior Bulldogs will find themselves facing the herculean SAT exam. Intending to assuage some of the anxiety often felt by these young scholars, we will be administering an after school SAT English prep course. The class will meet for three weeks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, starting on September 15. With only 15 spots available, the class will only be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Each week, we will cover a different section of the SAT as follows:


  • Week 1 (9/15, 9/16, 9/17): SAT Reading
  • Week 2 (9/22, 9/23, 9/24): SAT Writing and Language
  • Week 3 (9/29, 9/30, 10/1): Essay


Juniors and seniors are welcome to sign up for each class, or only the weeks that they want more support. Mrs. Fissette highly recommends that you sign up for every day of a particular week as they will not spend a lot of time reviewing what was covered in an earlier class session.


Location/time: Mr. VanWyk’s room, 2 - 3 p.m.


Materials: Please bring your laptop.


Sign up link

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Mondrian Masterpieces

Mrs. Carver's K5 art students are studying the art of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. During class this week, each student applied painter's tape on paper and then painted each section with watercolor. Next week, when the paintings are dry, students will remove the tape to see a cool pattern that has been created. We can't wait to see their final Mondrian-inspired works!

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Yearbook Portraits are next week. Middle and High School (6th - 11th grades) will be on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Lower School pictures will be on Thursday, Sept. 17. These are the photos that will be used in the yearbook and on student ID cards.


We will announce a makeup day soon if your child cannot attend next week!


Last chance to save $10 on your yearbook!


Buy your yearbook now for $75! The price goes up to $85 on Sept. 19. (seniors and senior parents can disregard this information - you don't pay for your yearbook this year!)


For easy online ordering, go to yearbookordercenter.com and enter 14485 (or enter school name instead – George Walton Academy). Or you can send in a check with your child - $75 per book (payable to GWA) and make sure to include your child’s name and grade on the envelope and attn: Liz Jones and/or YEARBOOK. We sold out of books last year. Don’t miss your opportunity to place your order for the 2021 book!


More details were emailed yesterday from Liz Jones. Please check your email for more information.

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There’s an App for That!

Do you need some quick links for school info. at your fingertips? There’s an app for that! Download the GWA App (GWApp) at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/the-gwapp/id1458384466 to have quick access to the school calendar, RenWeb, In Focus, and more!

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How Are You Feeling?

By Lindsey Bailey

Lower School Counselor


How are you feeling? (cue eye rolls now) I know this is such a counselor question, but it is a question we ask for a reason. People are very good at hiding their feelings. Often we assume we know how someone feels based on their body language or tone of voice. Those are great cues to help us infer feelings, but there is no substitute for simply asking the question “How are you feeling?” Given all that has happened so far in 2020, I think we all feel a lot of strong emotions.


Emotion coaching is especially important for young children who are still learning how to label their emotions. You can help your child practice identifying and labeling their emotions by using a feelings chart like this one. Set aside a few minutes every day for your family to practice sharing their feelings. Take turns sharing and listening, but do not judge anyone (or yourself) for how they feel. Instead, simply label the feeling and accept it as it is. This can be as simple as this: “I feel tired and that’s okay.”


If you are not used to stating your feelings, that’s okay. It might feel weird at first, but I hope you give it a try. Sharing our feelings is a great way to empathize and build connections with one another.

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Varisty Bulldogs Hit the Road

Following last week’s solid 35-7 victory over Social Circle, the GWA varsity Bulldogs head south to take on Stratford Academy. The Eagles are formidable opponent with 19 seniors and most players from last year’s play-off team on the roster. If you are traveling to Macon to cheer on the Dawgs, be sure to see the rules for attendance. Face coverings will be required at all times (see details below).


Let’s go Bulldogs! Beat the Eagles!


Stratford Game Protocols

Stratford Map

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In person youth basketball registration for boys/girls, grades 3 -7 will be Oct. 20 from 5-6 p.m. We will not take any forms or payment after this date! To pre-register, fill out the attached forms below and send them to Grace Martin (gmartin@gwa.com).


  • Registration fee - $100
  • Jersey - $35


*We use the same jersey from year to year so they only have to purchase another one if they out grew the one from last year. If they use the same one then they only have to pay the registration fee.


Checks need to be made out to GWA. (You can send them in to the front office with "Attention: Grace Martin" or bring them to the registration on Oct. 20.)


If your child is signing up to play, please consider volunteering to coach a team. We are in need of parent volunteers to coach basketball!


Permission to participate form

NEGFLL registration form

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Today's In Focus is proudly sponsored by Element Funding (www.elementfunding.com). Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program? Contact Jeanie Beach at jbeach@gwa.com or call 678-635-3812.

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Please click HERE for a pdf version of the Quick Reference Guide.