In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

November 7, 2019

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • Winter Sports Senior Banner Photos: Nov. 8
  • V Football at Commerce: Nov. 8 @ 8 p.m.
  • Upper School Play: Nov. 8 & 9
  • Veterans Day Program: Nov. 11 @ 9 a.m.
  • Band Performance - Downtown Monroe: Nov. 14 @ 5:30 p.m.
  • S'mores and More Bonfire: Nov. 14 @ 6:30 p.m.
  • Winter Sports Photo Days: Nov. 18 & 19
  • Counselor Chat Speaker: Nov. 21 @ 8:15 a.m.
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Faculty Professional Development Day

“I’m still learning…” -Michelangelo at age 87


This past Monday, the faculty and staff came to campus for our fall in-service day while students enjoyed a day off of school. The purpose of this day was to spend time with each other learning more about who we are as a community of educators, identify and understand current trends and research in the world of education and student well-being, and walk away feeling energized and refreshed with ideas on how to continue making the GWA experience the best it can be for our students.


The theme of the day was “purpose” as the faculty got to hear from five of their colleagues about their recent visit to Boulder, CO to attend the World Leadership School’s Purpose Summit. The day started with an interactive icebreaker, followed by discussions and mini workshops on how education is no longer just about thinking, but should also incorporate feeling and doing, as well as looking at the changing trends in college admissions over the last ten years.


During breakout sessions, the team that visited Colorado shared techniques from the conference that they felt could further enhance our students’ experiences, such as finding purpose through “calling cards,” backward design elements of curriculum planning that keep the student at the forefront, and ways to brainstorm creative modifications to existing plans that would elevate the level of students’ learning. Teachers also spent time in smaller groups brainstorming “moonshot” ideas (how to make the impossible possible) that they think could take GWA to the next level.


The usefulness of these days for our faculty cannot be understated. We often say that teachers are simultaneously expert, novice, and co-learner, so to be given time and space to learn and ask enduring questions of our craft are important ways that we stay grounded and on task for our students. It is also a reminder to never stop learning – that no one is ever so experienced or accomplished that there isn’t more out in the world for them to learn. So, to have a school that prioritizes entire days like these for teachers is not only a luxury, but also an essential component of being a healthy school, and another reason for us to say, “It’s great to be a Bulldog!”

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GWA Master Teachers

Sabrina Wardell and Angie McElveen earned the status of Master Teacher at the annual GISA (Georgia Independent School Association) North Conference at Tallulah Falls School. To earn this distinction, teachers must receive a recommendation from their head of school and complete a nine-month program that includes training through GISA and submission of tangible evidence of pedagogical excellence, five letters of recommendation, as well as teaching videos. Congratulations to Sabrina and Angie on being the first GWA teachers to participate in the GISA Master Teacher program!
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Exploring the Rainforest

Mrs. Bishop's Rivers and Rainforests class is beginning their study of the rainforest. After brainstorming in class about what they thought the rainforest would be like, students visited the Atlanta Botanical Gardens to get a first-hand look. At the gardens, there are two types of rainforests, the low altitude which stays around 80 degrees and is found around the equator and the upper altitude which is cooler. The students came up with 10 questions in class to answer as they participated in a guided tour. The group learned a fun fact along the way - poisonous tree frogs in the rainforest are only poisonous because of the insects they eat.

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Molecules Take Shape

Dr. Dibble’s Honors Chemistry class created ball and stick models of interesting molecules- everything from adrenaline to morphine. Students are using what they’ve learned about covalent bonding and molecular geometry to produce beautiful structures with accurate shapes!

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From Germany to GWA

Our German exchange students recently spoke with Mrs. Côté about their experiences here at GWA and in the U.S. Both students will attend GWA for the entire school year. Amanda Tangel is from Kassel, Germany and Anabell Wagner lives near Köln.


Did you always know you wanted to study abroad for a whole year?

Amanda: I just wanted to do a three week exchange during summer, but then through an exchange program website I saw an advertisement for a full year, and it looked awesome so I took that option

Anabell: two years ago I started thinking about it


Have you done any other foreign exchanges in the past?

Amanda: one to France for ten days

Anabell: I went to England for a week


What were you excited about and/or nervous about before you left?

Amanda: excited for school and to meet my host family and for the food, not so nervous about anything since my family also goes to school here

Anabell: excited to see my host family and more nervous about first day of school because I would get lost or not have friends


Which class is your favorite?

Amanda: I don’t have a favorite since I get to choose my own classes, I chose the best ones (I love French)

Anabell: Spanish


What is the hardest adjustment you have had to make?

Amanda: relying on family for everything

Anabell: not having public transportation


What is the most interesting thing you have learned about American culture so far?

Amanda: that Halloween is so big here – its is not even celebrated in my city anymore

Anabell: my family is going to put up Christmas decorations on Sunday so that’s really early


What have you learned about German culture by living here?

Anabell: public transportation is amazing


What is one thing you wish you could bring back to Germany with you?

Amanda: my host family and the malls here – my city only has the basics so the malls here are amazing

Anabell: my host family


How would you describe study abroad in a few words?

Amanda: exciting, adventure

Anabell: out of your comfort zone


What would you tell someone who is thinking about studying abroad?

Amanda: just do it because the differences are what you expect, so just try it

Anabell: just do it

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No Spring Break Plans? No Problem! College Tour 2020 is Just Around the Corner!

By Jon Terrell, Director of College Counseling


Spring Break is only about four months away. And what better way to enjoy spring break this year than to send your students with the college counselors on a spring break trip! The College Counseling Office is excited to announce and offer the opportunity for GWA students to trek through the state of North Carolina this year (we will have a different tour location next year) to visit several colleges and universities and explore options for future paths they may consider after graduating.


So, you are probably asking, “I wonder who can go…?” All 9th, 10th and 11th graders are eligible and encouraged. This is a great time to visit schools and help students determine what they like and don’t like in a college setting. Our goal is to help raise student’s interest in thinking about college options as well as, hopefully, motivate them to continue working hard to achieve the goal of being admitted to one of these institutions. READ MORE...

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GWA Alumnus Shares His Expertise

Thanks to Lawrenceville police officer and GWA alumnus Officer Chris Carey ('07) for sharing his knowledge and experience with our upper school students during flex block yesterday. The demonstrations and Q & A sessions gave them relevant information and a greater understanding of the laws that apply to driving and getting pulled over by a police officer.
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Join us next Thursday for the S'mores and More Bonfire at 6:30 p.m. behind the baseball field and let's cheer on our varsity football as they get ready to play in their first post-season game.
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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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Support Folds of Honor

GWA is proud to support sixth grader Journey Allen in her effort to raise awareness and money for the Folds of Honor organization (foldsofhonors.org). We will announce the winning design in our recent patriotic t-shirt design contest during the Veterans Day program on Monday, Nov. 11. The shirts will be available for sale in Nicholson Center immediately following the program and later in the Dawg Shop. Cash, check and cards will be accepted. All proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts will go to Folds of Honor.
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The George Walton Academy

School Counseling Department

has the pleasure of inviting you to hear

special guest speaker,

Lisa Boylan

as she discusses

Stress vs. Anxiety: Looking Beyond the Behavior

Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019

at 8:15 a.m. in the Dawg 360 House


We live in a fast-paced, 24/7 world, and sometimes students, no matter what their age, find themselves overwhelmed, leaving them to feel stress or possibly anxious. The problem for parents and educators is that stress and anxiety have behavioral implications; so how do we look beyond the behaviors to help our student deal with the stress or anxiety?


Lisa Boylan, the Community Liaison for the Ridgeview Institute, will be at our next Counselor’s Chat to talk to us about recognizing behaviors your student might demonstrate while stressed or anxious and to provide suggestions on how to help your student cope with stress or anxiety in a healthy and positive way.

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Gingerbread Christmas Returns to GWA!

GWA is excited to invite the community to our second annual Gingerbread Christmas on Sunday, Dec. 1, 4 – 6 p.m. Please join us on our campus for an afternoon of fun holiday activities including:


*Photos with Santa

*Cookie Decorating

*Gingerbread House Contest

*Festive Food

*Carols by the Campfire

*Reindeer Games

*6 p.m. Devotional & Tree Lighting


The deadline to enter the gingerbread house contest is Nov. 18 - please click HERE for full details and entry forms.

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Annual Loyalty Fund Supports the Arts

Each year, the Annual Loyalty Fund allows George Walton Academy to offer programs that set our school apart from others. One of the arenas that benefits heavily from the support of our fund is our Fine Arts Department. The Piano Lab and its accompanying opportunities are born out of the Annual Loyalty Fund.


Playing the piano has proven to be incredibly beneficial. Students who play piano learn important life skills such as time management, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Our school is able to offer group lessons at minimal cost and provide our upper school students with piano as an elective. Private lessons are also offered on campus, allowing parents the convenience of less traveling from place to place. Currently, there are 108 students who are benefiting from this program!


Our GWA piano instructor, Corrie Beth Noll, offers her thoughts on the Annual Loyalty Fund. “My husband is a 2001 graduate of GWA. We have been supporting the Annual Loyalty Fund for many years. I see the person he has become, and I firmly believe his experience at GWA is a large part of who he is today. As an employee and parent at GWA, I’m honored to be able to give to the Annual Loyalty Fund because I see the impact it has on our students each day. We are one of the few schools in the state of Georgia who offer piano classes to our students. Thanks to the Annual Loyalty Fund, we can provide students the opportunity to explore Fine Arts in a way that isn’t available at other schools.”


Please support incredible opportunities that set George Walton Academy apart by participating in the Annual Loyalty Fund today. Our 50 Day campaign ends on Friday, November 16th. We would love to see 100% participation from our GWA families!


You may show your support of GWA by giving online HERE

*monthly giving options are available*

Pledges may also be made and paid by June 30, 2020.

Find the form HERE

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Dawg Shop Updates

Check out the Dawg Shop for the latest in GWA spirit wear - including a graffiti-inspired t-shirt designed by French exchange student Axel Cantova. Also, just in time for Christmas, hand blown glass ornaments with our gold 50th anniversary logo have arrived. Hurry in! The quantities on these items are limited. For your convenience, the shop hours have been extended to Monday - Friday, 7:45 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.
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The Bulldogs Take It on the Road

Support our varsity Bulldogs tomorrow night at Commerce as they play their last game of the regular season. GO BULLDOGS!
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MS Girls Win Big!

Our middle school basketball teams kicked of the season with home openers against Hebron Christian. The girls team defeated the Lions 45-25! Seventh grader Ashley Hill led with 16 points. The boys played hard and finished down by four points in overtime.
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Be in the Know!

GWA fall sports are wrapping up and winter sports are getting started! Click the calendar link above to check out upcoming sporting events. GO BULLDOGS!

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It's (Almost) Time to Trim the Trees!

Dawgs 360 has 18 live trees in the courtyard looking for families to adopt and decorate with holiday decorations the week of Thanksgiving Break! Please email Elizabeth McDonel at emcdonel@gwa.com for more details!

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