In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

January 16, 2020

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • School Holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Jan. 20
  • Winter Sports Senior Night: Jan. 21
  • Prospective Family Open House: Jan. 26
  • Chili Cook Off & Bingo Night: Jan. 30
  • Red Cross Blood Drive: Jan. 31
  • Spring Sports Photo Day: Feb. 13 (most sports)
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Preparing for the Future

What do the CDC, the Museum at the University of Utah, the McNulty Foundation on Wall Street, the USDA, Athens Orthopedics, and the Rockdale Judiciary Court system have to do with GWA? These are the places you will find our students pursuing real-world learning opportunities. Eighty juniors and seniors are exploring potential career paths through winter term internships. After careful research and communication with potential mentors, our students secured their personal placement for this experience. They put on a brave face as they walked into unfamiliar settings their first day “on the job” and it didn’t take long to settle into the new routine and begin learning the ropes.


Senior Torie Johnson, an intern with the Piedmont Rockdale maternity center, told us “I tried something outside my comfort zone and discovered this is the career I want to pursue. I was completely surprised by this discovery, but I have fallen in love with the medical field.” While many others have made similar observations, there is equal value in realizing that a particular field is not as anticipated, and then exploring other options.


Our students have chosen varied fields, however, one common theme we hear from them is how GWA has prepared them for this experience. Each intern is demonstrating his or her ability to communicate effectively and engage seamlessly with the adults in a workplace setting. We are thrilled to offer this opportunity to our students, and excited to see them exceed our expectations.


Please look for more information about GWA internships in next week’s In Focus as students share their experiences and observations from the field.


Peggy Jordan

Registrar

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Spring Rawl Named STAR Student

George Walton Academy senior Spring Rawl has been named the school’s 2020 PAGE STAR Student. To qualify as the STAR Student a senior must have the highest score on a single test date on the SAT and be in the top ten percent of his or her class based on the grade point average. Spring selected Jeff Lalaian, math teacher and math department chair, as her STAR Teacher. Both Spring and Mr. Lalaian will be honored at a banquet sponsored by the Walton County Chamber of Commerce in March. Congratulations to Spring and Mr. Lalaian!
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A New Reality

By Brian Cole

Associate Head of School, Fine Arts


A new winter term class that is being developed into a yearly semester course; virtual reality, immerses the students completely in a 360 degree environment. Although still an emerging technology, virtual reality has made many advances in the entertainment industry and is now seeing increased use in education. During winter term, we are exploring the collaboration and design benefits of this new platform that will be used to develop a complete virtual reality course curriculum for the 20/21 school year. Students are currently testing the design capabilities of Gravity Sketch in VR on one of our new Oculus Quest devices. They will use these new tools to produce objects in VR and then export them in a format that can be 3D printed in our design lab.


Virtual reality allows students to step into places, roles, and experiences that were previously inaccessible to most and makes it possible to travel without the constraints of time, cost, and permission slips. We are exploring museums and experiencing artwork from around the world in a more interactive and meaningful way without stepping foot on a bus. The immersive nature of virtual reality brings depth to the educational experience by allowing for exploration to a degree that would be difficult to duplicate in a normal classroom setting. I believe that it will be another useful tool in unlocking our student’s curiosity and their love of learning.


We will be joining forces with our partner school in New York, the Trinity School, to have students collaborate on several design projects next year.

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Learning to Fly

Students in Mrs. Bishop’s skydiving class are discovering what it takes to be a skydiver. They have learned about the role physics plays in jumping, and examined the parts of a parachute – how it works and how to pack it. On Monday, students took flight inside the iFLY (Atlanta) wind tunnel. They put STEM into action by estimating and testing their own terminal velocity. We asked students to share what they have learned and experienced so far in this unique winter term class.


What are you learning?


In this class we are learning about the physics and safety of skydiving. We learned how the wind affects the skydiver and parachute as they fall, and how the shape of the skydiver and parachute can affect the speed at which you fall. Parachutes can be very dangerous if you don’t use it properly. So we learned how to pack and pull a parachute correctly. We also learned the correct body positions, so you don’t go out of control. Now I think we are ready to go skydiving ourselves. – Garrett Kirby


Throughout this winter term course, I have learned a lot about the physics of skydiving. I have learned that skydiving is, in reality, much safer than it may seem. Because of the way you pack away your parachutes, you are actually in very good hands to come down to the earth safely. I have also learned that once the force of gravity is equal to the air/drag force pushing up on your body, you have reached free fall and are at terminal velocity. At iFLY, we calculated our terminal velocity based on certain factors such as frontal area, mass, and the drag constant. In conclusion, this winter term course is not only quite enjoyable and entertaining, but it also has taught me many science factoids that not only enhance my general knowledge, but also make me want to go skydiving. - Noah Hicks

READ MORE...

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AR Achievements

Congratulations to Ellington Noll and Kassie Kate Lance both in Mrs. Franklin's first-grade class and Bennett Baker in Mrs. Scott's second-grade class! They each reached their grade level goal of 100 AR points and received a gold medal after many hours of reading and taking AR quizzes. Bennett is the first student in his grade to achieve 100 AR points. Keep up the good work Ellington, Kassie Kate and Bennett!

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GWA Open House is Jan. 26

Please help us spread the word! Prospective families are invited to learn more about George Walton Academy and our programs on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. The GWA Open House event begins with a brief presentation followed by a student-led campus tour and concludes with a Q & A session. Interested families should contact Director of Admissions Cari Bailey for more info. at cbailey@gwa.com or to register.
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Become a Donor!

GWA Student Council will sponsor the Red Cross Blood Drive on Friday, Jan. 31, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Nicholson Center. Due to recent events, the need for blood donors has reached the critical stage. To schedule an appointment, you may download the Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code: gwa, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Please remember photo identification is required for all donors.

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Have You Signed Up?

Want to watch your tax dollars at work for your school? You can help make it possible for deserving students to attend GWA without it costing you a dime! Participation in Georgia GOAL doesn't require additional money out of your pocket. In fact, you receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for your contribution, and the window is still open to participate in the 2020 GOAL Tax Credit! Please click below to access the 2020 GOAL Tax Credit application. Contact Jenni Cole at jcole@gwa.com for more information.

https://www.goalscholarship.org/for_donors/tax_contribution_type.asp
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Donations Needed

We are gathering items for our Golden Gala Silent Auction. The silent portion of our auction will go live on Feb. 8. Please join us in soliciting items for our gala. Consider asking your hair stylist or skin care provider to donate products or services. Restaurant, boutique, and service gift cards are wonderful additions to our auction. Time away at vacation properties and pieces of art are also wonderful items.


Stop by the Advancement Office in the front of the school with any items that you plan to donate. If you have any questions, please contact Savanna McMichael at (678)635-3840 or smcmichael@gwa.com.

Find a donation request form HERE.

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By Lynn Robinson, Middle and High School Counselor


Nowadays a lot is being written in educational journals about perseverance. Researchers are studying what it means to have perseverance and how it shapes one’s life. It is no surprise that these researchers are concluding that perseverance helps us reach our goals and allows us to make it through difficult times. Also, they have determined that a student who knows how to persevere has confidence and is more likely to take initiative in dealing with difficult situations and to take control of his own learning.


Dr. Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania professor who has done extensive research on this subject, writes in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, “The highly accomplished are paragons of perseverance.” She encourages parents and teachers to model perseverance, because that is the best way to teach a child how to persevere. In other words, we are to share how we handle our difficult days. We let our students know that bad days are a part of life. We tell them the positive things we say to ourselves to get through a rough day. We have conversations about being optimistic and moving forward, and we show them that today’s difficulties do not have to influence how we work tomorrow.


The next time your student faces a challenge or setback, talk to him about the situation. Look for ways to empower and equip him to handle his own conflict. Give him resources and allow him opportunities to practice perseverance.

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GWA Well-Represented at All-State Band

Over the weekend we had 21 students audition for the second round of All-State. The following students won a spot in the 2020 Georgia All-State Band:

    • Nicole Volk- 8th Grade
    • Blakeney Sewell- 8th Grade
    • Michael Mealor (1st alternate)- 8th Grade
    • Brody Lindsey- 12th Grade
    • Eli Scornik- 11th Grade
    • Brooks Dokes- 11th Grade
    • Alex Carrillo- 11th Grade
    • Gracie Wood- 10th Grade
    • Luke Lewis (1st alternate)- 9th Grade
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Are you musically talented? Would you like to share your gifts with our GWA community? Come join us for Concerts in the Courtyard, where you can perform in a relaxed setting for your fellow students and teachers. Contact Corrie Beth Noll at cnoll@gwa.com to sign up for a performance time and date. This opportunity is open to students, faculty and staff.


Concerts will be held Jan. 23, Feb. 26, March 23, and April 23 during middle and high school breaks and after school 3:30-4:30 p.m.

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Friday Night Hoops

Come out tomorrow night to support our JV and varsity basketball teams as they take on the Spartans! Our youth players will be recognized during each varsity halftime and youth players wearing their basketball jerseys will be admitted free.


Also, Jeff Lalaian will be signing his new book, "NOT-lanta," starting at 6 p.m. in the concession area. A great read about the cursed 40-year history of Atlanta sports.

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Bulldogs Place Third at Area Duals

Despite the best efforts of the Bulldog wrestlers, the team missed qualifying for the state tournament by six points.


George Walton Academy defeated Washington Wilkes Comprehensive High School in the first round 44 to 24. All eight GWA wrestlers either pinned or secured major wins (winning by eight or more points) in the contest.The Dawgs lost to Commerce High School in the next round and faced Athens Christian Academy for second place. The top two teams qualified for State Duals happening this weekend.


Due to injuries and lack of wrestlers, George Walton gave up 30 points in forfeits and ended up losing the duals match 33 to 39.


The team wrestled with grit and determination, losing only five matches all day. Chris Sperin, Michael Dagenhart, and Patrick Morris were undefeated at the tournament. Nico Eberhart, Perry Jake Stone, Beau Mitchell, Angus Bateman and Ryan Denhardt lost one match at the area contest.


Bulldog wrestlers turn their focus to the GHSA State Individual Championships happening in Macon in mid-February.


Photo credit: Jenny Mitchell

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Ready to Run!

It's time to sign up for youth track! Registration will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 22 in the auditorium, 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. The cost is $50 to register and uniform information will be provided at the time of sign-up. Practice will begin on Monday, Feb. 3 with weekly practices held on Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:15 - 4:15 p.m. Tuesdays will be optional. Coaches (Mark Whitley, Laura Henry and Grace Martin) will pick students up from their classrooms and walk them over to the track by the baseball fields.
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Be in the Know!

GWA winter sports are heading into their final weeks! Click the calendar link above to check out upcoming sporting events including swimming, basketball and wrestling.

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Mark Your Calendar for Jan. 30!

Get ready to show off your culinary skills and walk away with a $100 cash prize as Dawgs 360 gets ready to host the third annual Chili Cook Off and Bingo Night on Jan. 30! It is a fun night full of games, music, prizes, food and great company! To enter the contest or to volunteer for the event, please email Elizabeth McDonel at emcdonel@gwa.com.

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Today's In Focus is proudly sponsored by Willco Electric Company. Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program? Contact Jeanie Beach at jbeach@gwa.com or call 678-635-3812.
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