In Focus @ GWA
A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy
It is crazy to think that the 2020-2021 school year is already upon us, and that we welcomed faculty and staff back to campus this past week! Pre-planning is one of my favorite times of the year – it’s the first time the entire staff comes back together after the summer months (even more exciting this year since we had not been together as a group since mid-March) and we get to spend time collectively imagining, vision casting, and charting a course for the year ahead.
One of the many perks enjoyed by independent schools is the ability to create a unique experience for each student to find his or her passion and purpose – there is no such thing as “one size fits all.” At George Walton Academy, we are consistently engaging in conversations surrounding our purpose as a school and evaluating how we can better prepare students to make a positive impact in a changing world. For us, that means taking advantage of every opportunity to maximize a student’s time on our campus through experiential learning, signature programs, and an academic plan that prioritizes flexibility and student choice. To that end, this week all teachers are participating in training sessions on new digital platforms that we believe will take the student experience to the next level, while also enabling us to provide greater elasticity during times of prolonged student absence or digital learning.
This year, there are so many exciting changes coming to campus across divisions. Lower school teachers are preparing to roll out a new math curriculum, a new Phonics programs in first and second grade, and a brand-new global studies program across grade levels. We are also piloting a mobile science lab in Lower School that will bring science to life and allow students to pursue a more in depth and “wonder”ful study of the world around them.
Under the leadership of a new division head, the Middle School is engaging in dynamic discussions about student study skills and how we can intentionally curate experiences that help students practice those skills. Those discussions are also opening doors for conversations regarding vertical and horizontal alignment across grade levels and disciplines, which has helped us to think more broadly about the whole student experience in terms of content and skills. Additionally, middle school students are taking an additional elective this year, giving them the opportunity to pursue their passions and interests which may include learning to play guitar in our new Guitar Lab.
In the Upper School, students will be able to take advantage of new courses and opportunities: there are seven new courses in the humanities department dealing with global perspectives; students can participate in bee-keeping through the art department; a new AP physics course broadens our science offerings; the Math Lab will provide support across math classes to help all students achieve their math potential; and new levels in language courses will help students become better communicators. On top of all of that, the majority of middle and upper school students are receiving new devices, allowing us to push more iPads into Lower School and bring us one step closer to being 1-to-1 in the Lower School.
As you can see, there is no end to the possibilities at George Walton Academy this year! We know that this will be an extraordinary year as we continue to challenge ourselves and broaden the horizon of what education can be – pandemic or not – the work is never done! We can’t wait to see everyone next week and are looking forward to a great year!
Associate Head of School,
Curriculum and Global Studies
Back to School Pandemic Style
Back to school has always been one of my favorite times of the year. I get to see all my friends, co-workers, and students and hear about their summer adventures. I get to buy new school supplies and clothes. I get to re-arrange my office and make it better than ever. I get to wake up early again.
And this year is no different, except that I also get to wear a mask... with llamas on it. That’s right, llamas. And I get to pack my lunch every day. And I get to keep others safe by standing at least 6 feet away.
Did you notice that I said “I get to..” Instead of “I have to...”? That one word can help you see things from a whole new perspective, especially when things are out of our control. Like having to wear a mask. It’s not fun and nobody enjoys it. But it is pretty cool that I got to pick out my own fabric and learned how to sew a mask myself. Packing a lunch can be fun, too. Maybe my husband will even sneak a note in my bag for me.
While things are not back to normal yet, try making back to school as fun as possible. See if you can turn some of your “I have to’s” into “I get to's.”
Check out this Back to School Care Package for other great tips on how to make this transition the best one yet.
I can’t wait to see you guys next week!
Lower School Counselor
Just a friendly reminder! Our mandatory ‘College Application Process for Seniors & Parents’ meeting is coming up next Monday, August 17. It will be a virtual meeting and we have scheduled three different sessions for your convenience. The same content will be covered at each session. Parents, you can even attend a different session from your child if you would like. Links will be sent out tomorrow afternoon and again on Sunday. We will offfer the following sessions:
- 8 - 8:45 a.m.
- 11:45 - 12:30 p.m.
- 5 - 5:45 p.m.
We ask that you sign up for whichever one meeting best accommodates your time. If you have conflicts with Monday, please email email@example.com). The link below will send you to a google doc to register. We will be covering anything and everything related to college applications, the process, timelines, scholarships and more.
Regardless of what 2020 continues to share with us, just know that Mrs. Nabors and I are here 100% to help guide and mentor all of our seniors (and parents) through the college application process (and anything else we can help with this year). We look forward to seeing everyone before school "officially" gets started!
Director of College Counseling
Welcome Back from the PARC! We would like to share the many exciting things happening in the PARC this coming school year:
Mrs. Tonya Coe has joined the Upper School PARC as a full-time academic coach. You can find her office in what was formerly known as the Upper School Testing Center. Mrs. Coe brings a wide range of experience and skills with her, and Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Pulliam are grateful for her alliance in supporting our students and teachers.
Upper School Testing Center is now located next to the teachers’ mail room, adjacent from Dr. Dolan’s office. Mrs. Lalaian, US Testing Coordinator, is excited to be in a larger, secluded area. The testing center will continue to assist students and teachers with make-up test and testing accommodations.
Mrs. Dineen Shubert, previous GWA first-grade teacher, will serve as our lower school testing center coordinator. We are very pleased to have Mrs. Shubert as an additional resource for testing accommodations and make-up testing for Lower School. The Lower School Testing Center can be found in the Lower School Library.
Mrs. Megan Hulitt will provide speech support as a private speech-language pathologist. Her sessions are fee-based and she has over 20 years of experience. Please email Misty Lalaian, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested in a speech screening for your child.
Mrs. Pelosia Fields will be the new speech-language pathologist for students who have pre-qualified for services through Walton County. If you are interested in seeking speech services through Walton County’s Child Find program, please email email@example.com as well.
GWA offers a multitude of support avenues to any student, including: peer tutors, a Writing Lab, Math Lab, teacher after school office hours. Please encourage your child to take advantage of these free resources. Private tutors are fee-based and can be scheduled to work with your child during his/her study hall.
As always, the PARC teams are here for you and your child, but we strongly encourage the development of teacher- student relationships. All middle and upper school teachers are available for afternoon help from 2:00-3:45 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
Director of the PARC
Ready to Roll!
Parents and guardians should on the lookout for an email from School Dismissal Manager early next week. This message will include steps regarding how to submit dismissal changes such as a student going to aftercare instead of carpool. Please make a note of the carpool times for the new school year. To make sure our morning drop off (7:30 – 8 a.m.) runs smoothly, please have your child ready to exit your vehicle when you pull up. See details regarding afternoon carpool below.
- Lower School Afternoon Carpool: 2:45 – 3:05 p.m.
- Lower School Carpool will begin at 2:45 p.m. each afternoon.
- Parents are asked to display their carpool numbers each day.
- Gates will open at 2 p.m. for High School dismissal. Lower School parents are asked to wait until 2:30 p.m. to arrive to give the high school students time to leave campus.
- Middle and High School Afternoon Carpool: 2 – 2:30 p.m.
- Middle and High School students will be picked up at the front of the high school building beginning at 2 p.m.
- Students will be required to wear masks until they get in the car.
- They will be separated by grade level while waiting on their rides.
The 411 on Face Coverings
We require all adults and students (second -12 grade) to wear face coverings while on campus indoors as well as outdoors when social distancing is not an option. Students in Pre-K3 through first grade are encouraged to wear face coverings. Please note that some fabric face coverings are not effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, all face coverings need to be appropriate.
· Cloth masks
· Neck gaiters
· Any color
· Sports teams
· Anything with holes
· Things that have political messages or words/phrases will not be allowed
- 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th grade students will be receiving new laptops. They have been placed in their first period classroom with their chargers and login information. If they have PE, the laptop will be in their second period classroom.
- If an 8th or 12th grader turned in their laptop to be repaired at the end of the school year a replacement laptop has been placed in their first (or second) period classroom.
- If a student does not receive a computer due to a late schedule change, they should email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text to (678)532-9723 with the student's name, grade level and the issue.
- If a student has a technical issue they should not visit the HUB during the first few days of school and should email email@example.com or send a text to (678)532-9723 with their name and issue. We will contact them with the next steps to resolve their issue.
Join Dawgs 360!
Dawgs 360 supports all aspects – or the full circle – of Bulldog student life. The organization was created to engage the entire school community and benefits the student experience at all grade levels.
A family membership to the organization is $100 annually and Dawgs 360 member families enjoy:
*Admission to all concerts, plays, and performances
*Admission to all home athletic competitions, except playoffs
*Field trips, for both the student and the member chaperone (overnight field trips require additional fee and field trips will be limited this year)
*10% discount on all regular-priced apparel items at the Dawg Shop
Additionally, Dawgs 360 is simply the best way to get involved at GWA! It is the clearinghouse for all volunteer opportunities on campus. It’s a 360 degree turn, a full circle of influence that promotes and celebrates Bulldog school pride. Dawgs 360 dues go directly to funding student life opportunities.
We encourage parents to become involved in our GWA community. Attending events and volunteering are great ways to meet other parents, interact with students and collaborate with GWA faculty. There’s no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together.
We are very excited about starting the 2020-2021 season with our new family pass designed by our summer student technology team (pictured above)! With a Dawgs 360 membership - each family will receive two free cards with a replacement fee of $5 and for your convenience, additional cards are $5 each. Please be patient with us as we are printing cards as quickly as possible.
Email Elizabeth McDonel, Director of Dawgs 360, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in volunteering as part of Dawgs 360 or if you have any questions. Click HERE for application form and more details.
As we begin the 2020-21 school year, I wanted to bring to your attention the policy for George Walton Academy home game guidelines for spectators. Our goal is to provide a safe environment for both our student-athletes and our fans. We have created a few guidelines for all of our spectators.
Home Softball Games:
- All fans will be allowed to enter, however they will be asked to wear a face covering when it is not possible to social distance. Social distancing is defined as six feet apart.
- No concessions will be sold at softball games.
Home Volleyball Games:
- Parents/guardians and siblings of the participants will be the ONLY spectators allowed to attend games.
- All spectators/visitors will be required to wear a mask during the duration of time in the gym.
- All spectators/visitors will be screened before admission to the event. Screening procedures will consist of the following:
- Temperature will be scanned
- A series of questions will be asked.
- Any spectator that has a fever over 100.3 or answers "yes" to any of the questions will not be allowed to attend the event.
- Spectators are expected to practice social distancing and maintain a minimum of six feet between other spectators.
- Spectators are asked to enter the event no earlier than 15 minutes before the start time of the contest.
- No concessions will be served or allowed in the event area.
We hope that with a successful opening of our school and athletic competitions, while adhering to these guidelines, we will slow the risk of spread. Our hope is that we can resume normal operating procedures in the near future. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation during our home events.
Associate Head of School
Athletic Director, Upper School Athletics
Fall Lacrosse sign ups are active now! Please see details below.
COVID - 19 Safety Measures:
We will follow all school and GHSA policies to protect our players. Player and coach safety is our top priority. As the school and the state release more information, we will distribute that to our families.
Bantam Boys – 1st & 2nd Grade
Lightning Boys – 3rd & 4th Grade
Junior Boys – 5th & 6th Grade
Senior Boys – 7th & 8th Grade
Lightning Girls – 3rd – 5th Grade
Senior Girls – 6th – 8th Grade
Cost: Fall lacrosse dues are $100.
Practices: Practices will be held on the on our regular practice field located between the baseball field and the lower track. We will start practice on Aug. 26. Practices will be held on Wednesday and Friday at the following times:
Bantam Boys, Lightning Boys, and Lightning Girls will practice 4 – 5:30 pm.
Junior Boys, Senior Boys, and Senior Girls will practice 5:30 – 7:00 pm.
Equipment: Players are required to provide their own equipment. We have some loaner gear that will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. I will be organizing a gear purchase if we can get enough interest. Please reach out to me before buying anything. I can point you in the right direction to save some money.
Games: To be played on Sundays. Some games will be played at GWA, and others will be played at different parks in Gwinnett County. We don't have a schedule yet but should have one as we get close to the season starting.
You can register at Http://www.gwa.com/athletics/lacrosse.cfm.. On the right side of the screen, click the link for your son or daughter's age group. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Head Lacrosse Coach