In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

February 11, 2021

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Key Deadlines & dates

  • Winter Break: Feb. 12 & 15
  • Counselor Chat: Feb. 18 (see details below)
  • Lucky Dawg Gala/Auction (virtual): Feb. 20 @ 7 p.m.
  • Clothing Drive Donation Deadline: Feb. 26
  • Book Drive Donation Deadline: Feb. 26
  • Re-enrollment Contracts Due: March 1
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Facing Challenges and Coming Out on Top

College Admissions. It’s already a daunting and stressful task. Throw in a pandemic, increased application numbers and cancelling standardized testing options and everyone wants to lose their mind.


You’ve heard it now for a year. This year’s seniors have all had to stare down the pandemic, the unknown, and figure out how to persevere. It started with virtual learning last spring. A bizarre summer break. A cautious in-person senior year missing the breaks and lunches but trying to keep everything as ‘normal’ as possible. But you know what? Our kids were ready. They were prepared. The time, work, and energy they have put in over their time here has paid off.


Do you know what it is like to have 84 kids? We do. I for one could not be prouder of this class; I know the same rings true for Mrs. Nabors. Our counseling office and the dedicated and hard-working teachers that the students see every day, parents and supportive family have all helped these students get to where they are today. In a year in which college admission results could be disrupted or disappointing, the GWA seniors have already earned terrific achievements.


Fun facts about our seniors' success to date:

· Our 84 seniors have applied to 101 different institutions including an international application
· They have submitted over 330 applications (as of now)
· We have received over 215 decisions (and are still waiting on over 100 decisions in the next two months)
· The seniors have been accepted to 63 different institutions in 16 different states- click HERE for the complete list
· 39 seniors have been accepted to 100% of the colleges they have applied to
(as few as one, as many as 8)
· 5 Early Action Acceptances to Georgia Tech, 11 Early Action Acceptances to University of Georgia
· 13 out of 13 acceptances to Berry College – each receiving an academic scholarship
· 19 out of 20 acceptances to Georgia College
· Multiple acceptances into schools with close to a 10% acceptance rate


Not including HOPE, seniors have already surpassed $3 million in scholarships.


We have acceptances to 5 different Honors programs with a number still in consideration at their respective schools.


We have four athletes signed and committed to playing at the next level and another five trying to make a decision on the offers they have received.


At GWA, especially for the college counselors, it is about giving the student and parent an individually tailored approached to the college application process. We want students to find the best and right fits to continue their education after George Walton. We are so very proud of each and every acceptance our students have received and can’t wait to keep up with them in their future journeys.


Be sure to check out the college counseling wall in the senior hall the next time you are on campus.


It’s great to be a Bulldog!
Jon Terrell

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The Legacy and Lesson of Henrietta Lacks

Dr. Hutcheson’s Biology class discussed the story and legacy of Henrietta Lacks. She was a young African American mom who was treated for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins University Hospital (in a segregated ward) in 1951. While she did receive the best treatment for her cancer at that time (radium) she passed away within the year. During a biopsy her cells were collected (without her permission), and scientists discovered her cells ability to double every 20-24 hours while cells' from other patients rapidly died in the lab.


Mrs. Lacks' cells have been used to study polio, HPV and HIV as well as the effects of drugs, hormones, and toxins on cancer cells. Her cells were called HeLa cells- using first two letters of her name and these cells continue to impact the world seventy years after her death. Her story brings up bioethical issues and has influenced the standards now in place for consent to collect tissue, patient privacy, and the medical use of patient cells. In 2013, some of Henrietta’s family members joined a committee that oversees the use of HeLa cells –which have contributed to most fields of medical research and advancement and continue to shape the world of modern medicine.


Henrietta Lack’s story is important for students to learn and it is relevant for discussion on the topics of bioethics, biology, modern medicine, equity, and diversity.

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Real-World Learning

Seventy-five of our upper school students completed internships during Winter Term. They interned in a wide range of fields and vocations – from state government, veterinary medicine, the arts, banking and more. Students gained a crucial first-hand look at potential professions, learned to work in new environments, became part of a team and even learned new skills. Three of our senior interns share their experiences.


Claire McNulty – Office of Butch Miller, GA Senate Pro Tem

This Winter Term, I had the opportunity to intern at the Georgia Capitol with the President Pro Tem, Senator Butch Miller, during an incredibly historic time. Yet even in the midst of this unique environment, I was still able to witness democracy at work, whether it was through answering calls from concerned constituents or observing debates between senators during legislative sessions. Although I only was able to witness the beginning stages of this year’s legislative session, I observed events like Governor Kemp’s “State of the State” speech and Budget Week, the week the Appropriations Committees listen to requests for funding from various organizations. These experiences opened my eyes to how impactful the government could be in bettering the lives of citizens.


Jackson Ellerbee – GA Dept. of Natural Resources

My internship was with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. For each of the three weeks, I visited different agency locations with a variety of unique jobs. The first week, I was in Social Circle at the Wildlife Resources Headquarters. While there, I experienced urban wildlife management, the operations of the DNR fish hatchery and suited up for a controlled burn. The second week, I was in Atlanta and spent time in the Capitol. I was able to sit in a meeting with Governor Kemp and observe the operations of the State legislature just before the start of this year’s session. My final week was my favorite - I had the opportunity to work in Saint Simons Island with the Coastal Division of the Dept. of Natural Resources in Saint Simons Island. During this time, I visited nautical shipwrecks, cleaned, and studied native fish and learned about the research being conducted on caught fish at the DNR Coastal Regional Headquarters in Brunswick.


Max Misterka – Baker Group (Real Estate)

I spent my Winter Term this year interning with Baker Group in downtown Monroe. Whether it be locating listings on maps that I printed out, browsing the Georgia MLS website, or even traveling around and looking at Walton County area properties, everyday brought some sort of excitement. Observing the behind-the-scenes process of phone calls and emails, as well as attending a Walnut Grove City Council meeting (covering a zoning issue), I was able to see all aspects of this career. My favorite part came on the last day, when I was able to put up the “under contract” signs over the property listing signs that my mentor had listed.

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Middle School Scientists

Mrs. Schlumper's recent lab was a culmination of everything her students have learned over the last couple of months. There were bubbles, really bad smells, and dazzling color changes. Students had to use their knowledge in order to write compounds, balance chemical equations and apply them to acids and bases and the reactions between them.

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One for the Record Books

By Doretta Power, Head Swim Coach


GWA Swim Dawgs wrapped up the most successful swim season in George Walton’s history.

Girls Medley and Free Relay competed this year at this GHSA State Swim Championship. MK Dopp, Emma Dopp, Madison Taylor and Sarah Digby placed 8th and 15th in their relays.

Boys placed 11th in both Medley and Freestyle events. Congratulations to Charlie Stout, Jake Moore, Jake Stout, Timothy Pham, and Baylor Lingner for the outstanding teamwork throughout his season.


Shout out to freshmen, Madison Taylor and Jake Stout, who both qualified in two individual events. Madison placed 13th in the 100yd Butterfly and 15th in the 100yd Backstroke. Jake Stout competed in the 100yd Backstroke and a fantastic 9th place finish in the 200yd Freestyle.


Charlie Stout brought home a GOLD in the 200 IM with an outstanding time 1:51.46. Charlie’s 100 breast time of 55.45 earned him an All–American recognition among the top times in the country. He will swim as a UGA Bulldog in fall of 2022 -the University of Georgia knows a great swimmer when they see one!


It takes camaraderie, dedication, sweat and tears to have a good team. This swim season far outshines the obstacles we have encountered. We have a young team, so watch out 2021-22 season, the Swim Dawgs are growling for next season!!

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Grappling with Success


Congratulations to our varsity wrestlers and coaches on their season and success at the GHSA State Championship! State runner-up Perry Jake Stone (145) finished his season at 15-1 only losing to a two-time state champ in his final championship match. Michael Dagenhart (160) represented GWA well with two days of wrestling in the State Championship – finishing 5th overall. Evan Newsom (126) made his first trip to State and had a great tournament going 2-2 on the day. Way to go, Bulldogs!


Pictured (left to right): Coach Justin Sperin, Evan Newsom, Michael Dagenhart, Perry Jake Stone, Coach Jordan Matlack, Coach Brian Sperin.

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All-Region Hoopsters


We are proud to announce 8-A (Private) All-Region honors for the following GWA varsity basketball players (pictured in order, left to right):


Noah Hicks (’22) - Region 8-A Private Player of the Year

Kennedy Johnson (’22) - Region 8-A All-Region 2nd Team

Reese Gelsthorpe (’23) - Honorable Mention All-Region

Chase Jocelyn (’23) - Honorable Mention All-Region


Congratulations to all and good luck in post-season play!

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Post-Season Heats Up!

Our varsity basketball teams advance in the Region Tournament with a girls 44-12 victory over Athens Christian and a boys 74-64 win over LCA. Both teams have earned a spot in the state playoffs, and the results from this weekend's games will determine their seed in state playoffs. Good luck, Bulldogs!


To attend the Region games - girls play Tallaluh Falls at 7:30 p.m. and boys play ACS on Sat. at 5:30 p.m. (both at Athens Academy)- go to gofan.co.

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Due to the weather forecast, the spring sports pictures will be postponed until NEXT FRIDAY (2/19).


Lacrosse pictures and the track and golf pictures will take place on their designated times as usual. Below is the detailed information:


Tentative photo schedules are below (please confirm with your coach). Photo order forms should be available from your coach, the athletic office and/or the main front office.


Moved to Feb. 19!

8-9 a.m.: Soccer - MS girls, MS boys, VG and VB (Football Field by lower school gym)

9:15-10 a.m.: SENIOR banner pictures in the Nicholson Center (ALL spring sports seniors, including soccer, tennis, baseball, lacrosse, golf, track and any senior managers/trainers)

10:15-11 a.m.: Tennis- MS girls, MS boys, VG and VB (Tennis Courts by the cafeteria)

11:30-12:15 a.m.: Baseball- MS and Varsity (Baseball field)


Feb. 16 (locations and times TBD)

Lacrosse


Feb. 22 (locations and times TBD)

Golf- MS and HS athletes

Track- Youth, MS and HS athletes


SENIORS WILL HAVE THEIR BANNER PICTURE TAKEN ON FEB. 19 AT 9:15 IN THE NICHOLSON CENTER.

IF YOU DON'T HAVE A UNIFORM, PLEASE WEAR A GEORGE WALTON POLO.


For any questions, please contact Liz Jones or Grace Martin.

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Click HERE for athletic events on the GWA February calendar.
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Let the Bidding Begin!

Visit HERE to register for the Lucky Dawg Gala & Silent Auction. Since this year’s event is virtual, everyone is able to participate and bid on all items, but you do have to register to bid! We are excited to extend participation to all within our school and community.


The Silent Auction is now LIVE! Visit HERE to bid on your favorite items. There are fantastic grade projects available as part of the Silent Auction.


Remember that the Lucky Dawg Gala & Benefit Auction is a vital fundraiser for George Walton Academy!

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Get Your Ticket!

There are still a few Three Trip Raffle tickets available. Purchase a ticket HERE for a chance to win a trip to Austin, Texas, Scottsdale, Arizona, or Cortona, Italy.


Only 135 tickets will be sold! One ticket for $100. Six tickets for $500. 13 tickets for $1,000.

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Take a moment and show GWA some love! Thanks to the increase in the overall cap on education tax credits to $100 million, you still have an opportunity to secure your 2021 GOAL tax credit. As you know, this is a fantastic opportunity to make a remarkable impact on deserving families and the overall financial health of our school, all while receiving a 100% Georgia income tax credit for your contribution. It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN!


Click HERE to apply for your 2021 GOAL tax credit.

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Need a Sitter for Valentine's Day?

We can help! Upper school students who completed our Winter term Babysitter's Club course have been trained in CPR and basic childcare needs. If you are in search of a qualified babysitter, please contact Holly Atkinson for further information.
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Not Getting Stuck in the “Why?”

By Lynn Robinson, Director of School Counseling


When things happen that we don’t want to happen, we naturally think, “Why did this happen?” We want an answer to that question because we want to understand the reason behind what happened. Sometimes in life, things just happen and there is no explanation. Other times, we may get the answer to our question, but we don’t like the answer we get. Either way, we must deal with our disappointment, anger and sadness.


Coach Whitley recently reminded me that there is a “big plan” for us and that all things work towards the fulfillment of that plan. This is our faith. Trusting that there is an ultimate plan allows us to deal with unpleasant or difficult things that happen to us. It means that when bad things happen, we can move forward. We don’t get stuck in the question of “why?”


This school year has been a difficult one. It has had its share of challenges, both big and small; and difficult things most definitely have happened to us all. The way to move forward is to accept that we may not understand, but we can trust that something bigger than ourselves has it under control.

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Click HERE for more information about Dawgs Unleashed - including event registration and volunteer opportunities!
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Salamandra’s Kitchen is proud to serve our GWA community by offering a boxed lunch program – available by pre-order for grades K4 through 12 as well as faculty and staff. Please print, complete, and turn in your order form with payment (made directly to Salamandra’s) to the front office by the Thursday before the start of the new menu. Menus are updated every two weeks.


To avoid food waste, – please email leslie@salamandraskitchen.com by 9 a.m. if your child is absent on a day in which you have ordered a lunch. You will receive credit for that day.


New lunch menus will be posted every two weeks at http://www.gwa.com/campus-life/lunchmenu.cfm and no longer be sent via email.


Please contact Leslie McDowell with any questions at 404-759-3177 or email leslie@salamandraskitchen.com.

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Share the Warmth

What you can spare, they can wear! The GWA Interact Club is hosting a winter clothing drive through Feb. 26 to help share the warmth with the Atlanta homeless population. Drop off your gently used items (coats, rain jackets, sweaters, pants, socks, gloves, beanies, blankets) in Mr. Reagan's room in the Fine Arts building, at a designated "Winter Clothing Drive" box located around the main building and in the Lower School library.
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Join us for a two-day mini camp all about playing the piano! If your child has been interested in playing, but you can’t seem to find time in your busy schedule to try it out, here’s your chance!

During this camp, students will learn piano basics, play fun music games, and even end the event with a performance for parents. Questions? Contact Corrie Beth Noll at cnoll@gwa.com

To register : https://forms.gle/6FEAZrXSjfdqVour8

Upon registration, you will be sent information regarding payment.

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Today's In Focus is proudly sponsored by Snellville Heating, Air and Plumbing (www.snellair.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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