In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

March 21, 2019

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • Prom: March 22
  • Grandparents' Day: March 22 at 9 a.m.
  • Lower School Book Fair: March 22, March 25-29
  • Founders Day Celebration: March 29 at 9 a.m.
  • Spring Break: April 1-5

Please see a new section titled: Staffing Announcements.

We encourage you to check In Focus over the next few weeks to meet our newest team members and stay up to date on any staffing transitions. We have added some talented new faculty and staff and look forward to introducing them to you in In Focus.

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From Generation to Generation

By Lisa Reynolds Anderson ‘81


Almost 50 years ago, my family attended early meetings to discuss the founding of a school and to decide whether it would be a place for myself and my brother to attend. George Walton Academy was created as a result of those meetings, and in 1969, I was enrolled in the first grade in Good Hope, Georgia. On the very first day of school, there were 132 students in first through ninth grade.


An education was important to our family and both I and my brother, Andy, were awarded perfect attendance for all our years at GWA! I fondly remember the early years in the original Good Hope location and all of the fall festivals, chicken stews, and other fundraisers that were necessary, (but also fun!), social events. When we moved to the Spring Street location in 1974, I started sixth grade. It was a dream come true to be in our new building.


When I look at the GWA campus today, I am filled with pride. I remember the early years when students had to pick rocks up off of the football field during P.E. There was much to do to get the new campus in the best shape - and everyone pitched in. My husband’s father, Millard Anderson, donated his time and equipment to grade the football field. I will never forget my mother and other parents painting The Commons area walls over the summer.


I have so many memories from my time as a student. I was involved as a team manager for football and was crowned Miss Homecoming and Miss Bulldog on the same night! Over the past 50 years, I have enjoyed watching GWA continue to grow. I am proud that my stepdaughter, Jenni, is a senior this year and I love seeing her experience some of the new opportunities that did not exist when I was a student.


Jenni has been blessed to be a part of our award-winning marching band by participating in the Color Guard. She is also a student ambassador, serves as a peer tutor, and works in the lower school library. She has benefited from global travel and is excited that even greater global experiences are available for students. As Jenni plans her future after graduation, she hopes to become a lower school teacher; a career she says that her experience at GWA has inspired her to pursue.


I look forward to the Founders Day event on Friday, March 29. I can’t wait to reunite with fellow classmates, teachers and even parents who were part of that first day. George Walton Academy has come a long way since those early days, but one thing still remains true – GWA provides the best experiences for young men and women and lays the foundations for future success in college and life beyond.

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New Director of College Counseling

Beth Brandes has more than 15 years of experience as a director, school and college counselor, and is a National Certified Counselor. She most recently served as the Director of School and College Counseling at St. Theodore Guerin High School in Fishers, Indiana. She also serves as a NCAA national high school advisory committee member and school liaison. We encourage you to take a few moments to review her experience, qualifications, and skills listed on her resume. Next week, we will introduce her husband Jeff, who will join the lower school team in the fall.


Beth and Jeff tell us, “As both educators and parents, we look forward to being a part of the GWA community. There are many opportunities that our entire family (Jeff, Beth, Kylie, and Karch) is looking forward to being a part of academically and athletically at GWA. It is with great pleasure that we will be joining the GWA faculty and staff for the 2019-2020 school year. We can't wait to meet the staff, students, and community!”

Seventh Grade Addition

We are pleased to announce that Courtney Croker will bring her teaching experience, skills, and enthusiasm to the middle school as she transitions from third to seventh grade in the fall.
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We are excited to announce two Open House events in April! Open House provides an opportunity to learn more about our school and our programs from administrators, staff, students and parents. Contact Director of Admissions Cari Bailey for more info. at cbailey@gwa.com. We can't wait to show prospective families everything GWA has to offer!
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Make the most of summer at GWA Summer Camps!

Throughout the summer months, GWA is offering exciting day camps for all ages and a variety of interests, from STEM and robotics to athletics, art and foreign language. Summer Camps are open to the community, and attendees do not have to be current George Walton students. Click HERE for more information and registration.
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Join Us For Founders Day

George Walton Academy was incorporated in March 1969. Founders Day is an assembly to mark the occasion of the founding of the school, recognize those who helped in the beginning, and to celebrate our accomplishments over 50 years. Founders Day is open to GWA parents, grandparents, alumni and friends. Please RSVP to let us know if you will be joining us.

Lower School Tennis Classes are Back!

GWA's Beyond the Bell program will offer tennis lessons once again, beginning April 24 and 25. Tennis instructor Alex Lussi will introduce the fundamentals of the game, including technique, scoring, footwork and teamwork. The session is open to K4 through fifth graders, it will last four weeks, and the cost is $100. Click HERE for further information and to access the registration form.
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Announcing a New Traffic Pattern- Coming Soon!

We will be piloting a new afternoon carpool traffic pattern for lower school pick-up starting Tuesday, April 9. The objective of the new traffic pattern is to relieve the extended stacking of cars that spills onto Michael Etchison and to allow us to keep the back gates closed until 2:45 p.m. This piloted traffic pattern will only affect the afternoon lower school pick-up. Cars will continue to depart through the back gates. Please stay tuned for further details as we approach the pilot launch date in order to prepare for the new flow of traffic.
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Third Graders Study the States

GWA students worked hard assembling each of their projects to display at the annual third-grade state fair. They enjoyed sharing their state knowledge, presentation boards, state-related treats and a spirited song with visitors at Friday's Third Grade State Fair. Great job!
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Congratulations Literary State Winners!

The GHSA Literary State Championship took place this past Saturday at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, and some of our GWA students certainly shined! Zach Flynn won first in Domestic Extemporaneous Speech and Makena Helms won second in International Extemporaneous Speech. Congrats to Zach and Makena!
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Career Day 2019: So Many Options!

Several doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, pilots, professors, scientists, diplomats, videographers, accountants, bankers, entrepreneurs, and other professionals went back to school last Friday. They went back as a way to give back. They participated in George Walton’s second annual Career Day, organized by the college counseling department.


College should not be seen as a destination but as a step in a larger journey. Going to college is an expensive proposition and it is important that students go with a clearly defined purpose in mind. Career Day is meant to help students learn about different careers and identify some that interest them. Read more.

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Evening with Experts

On March 27, the college counseling team will host an Evening with Experts. The college counselors reviewed the areas where students and their parents tend to have the most questions and contacted the experts for answers. They have invited the following people to come to the George Walton Commons at 6 p.m. on March 27:


  • Jillian Bolak, Regional Admissions Counselor at Georgia College
  • Emily Culbertson, Associate Dean of Financial Aid at Emory University
  • Lenet Rivas, Senior Financial Aid Advisor at Emory University
  • Cecily Spindel, Emory University's Admission Advisor for George Walton
  • Michael Stone, Admissions Officer for George Walton at UGA
  • Brenda Vaughan from GA Futures


The admissions representatives can answer questions about how different parts of an application are evaluated: How important are test scores? Is it better to take AP or dual enrollment courses? Will my college essay be read? And how might that essay affect an admissions decision?


Parents tend to be more interested in how to pay for college. To answer their questions, the college counseling department has invited two financial aid officers from Emory University to explain the calculations that go into financial aid decisions, while a representative from GA Futures will explain how to qualify for the HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships.

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TSA Students Succeed at State Competition

Middle and upper school TSA (Technology Student Association) students attended TSA State Competition on Thursday and Friday in Athens. They competed in Photographic Technology, Problem Solving, On-Demand Video, CAD Engineering, Digital Photography, Forensics, & Dragster. Keith Mims won “Best in Show” for Dragster Design. Ady Odell qualified as a semi-finalist for Digital Photography and won tenth place in the finals. Congrats to our TSA State winners!

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Crash Course for Upper School Students

In an effort to educate students about the devastating results of intoxicated driving, the GWA student life organization created a simulated re-enactment of a fatal teen drunk driving accident on Wednesday. The event played out before our upper school student body with their peers acting the part of prom goers and our local first responders on the scene to deal with the mock tragedy. We'd like to thank program sponsor Safe Kids - Walton County, GA, the Walton County GA Sheriff's Office, Walton County Fire and Rescue, EMS, Life Flight, Kares 4 Kids, the Walton Barrow Board of Realtors and our GWA seniors. We urge our students to be responsible at all times, and especially behind the wheel and when riding with friends.

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Eighth Grade Explores Chattanooga

GWA eighth graders spent three fun-filled days in Chattanooga last week. They explored Ruby Falls, Rock City, Echota State Park, the Tennessee Aquarium, and the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Challenger STEM Learning Center. The group also enjoyed a three-course meal on the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
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Raising a Light to Honor and Remember

Get ready to light up the night for Relay for Life on May 3. George Walton Academy is honored to host this year’s event and make a difference in the fight against cancer. Local American Cancer Society Community Development Managers Timothy Carithers and Ali Jackson- also a childhood cancer survivor, stopped by campus to speak with all students about the goal of the Relay for Life and specifically about the activities planned for the evening of May 3. In a colorful demonstration of cancer’s wide-reaching impact- students were asked to light up a glow stick if they had been personally affected by cancer or had a family member or friend diagnosed with the disease. With so many lives touched by cancer, the need to come together to celebrate survivors and support the battle to beat cancer is vital.

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We invite our entire community to get involved: volunteer, donate, honor a loved one affected by cancer and help raise awareness and funds to fight this disease. To be part of this life-changing event, contact Director of Dawgs 360 Elizabeth Mcdonel at emdonel@gwa.com


Survivor DInner: GWA is partnering with First Baptist to host this special dinner on Friday, May 3. If you are a survivor and/or know someone please email Elizabeth McDonel by April 26 to receive an invitation to dinner.


Honor Your Loved One: If you would like to honor a family member or friend with a picture during the survivor dinner program, please email your picture, name, and in honor or in memory of to telesa.kendall@walton.k12.ga.us


Dedicate a Luminaria: Light up your community and honor every life touched by cancer. Dedicate a Luminaria to a loved one lost, someone currently battling, or anyone who has overcome cancer. Dawgs 360 is selling Luminaria Bags at the price of two for $10. If you are interested in purchasing bags, please contact Elizabeth McDonel. If you would like a student from our art department to decorate your bag for you, please let her know.


100 volunteers are needed on May 3! We are in need of volunteers in different areas, from unloading to loading tents, traffic coordinating, joining or starting a team, helping at the survivor dinner, as well as providing and driving golf carts! If you are interested, please email emcdonel@gwa.com

We need YOU!

Opportunities for Involvement:


Relay for Life Volunteers:

Set- Up: Fri., May 3 from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. & 4 - 6 p.m.

Host/Hostess’ for Survivor Dinner Clean- Up: 11 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.

Golf Carts and Drivers: Fri. May 3


Teacher Appreciation Week:

Week of May 6 - 10

We need breakfast bakers, mailbox treats, desserts for appreciation lunch and small tokens of appreciation!


Please email Elizabeth McDonel at emcdonel@gwa.com to get involved!

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Debut Win For GWA Lacrosse!

The youth lacrosse team celebrated their first victory this past weekend by beating Brookwood 6-3! Coach Jackson reported that William Ferguson led all scorers with the goals and one assist, Tidrell Ansiley score one goal and had one assist, AJ Dillard and Cale Fuller each scored one goal. Isaac Osei, Ty Burce, and Zy Burce played tough defense in front of goalie Marcus Porter, who recorded eight saves.


Their next match up is this weekend, March 23, at Duncan Creek Park. The team plays Mill Creek (Palman) at 12:15 pm and Buford (Leonardo) at 2:45 pm.

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Youth football registration is coming soon! Please plan to attend the mandatory meeting on April 9 at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria. Click HERE for further information and to download the registration form.
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MANDATORY UPPER SCHOOL ATHLETIC MEETING


On Thursday, April 25 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. there will be a MANDATORY athletic meeting for all rising upper school students and their parents who plan on participating in a GWA athletic program during the 2019-2020 school year. The meeting will be held in the cafeteria.


Areas that will be covered include general information- “The Dawg Way,” strength training, recruiting and team parents.

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Youth Cheer Registration

Youth Cheer registration is $70 plus uniform cost. Used uniforms will be available to purchase at registration. If you have a used uniform that you would like to sell, then please go to the Nicholson center concession area after school on Friday, March 22 to drop it off with Michele Bowen. If you can’t drop it off on that Friday, then please contact Michele Bowen (678- 207-6580) to set up a time to drop your used uniform off. We will label the uniform with your name and Michele will give you more details when you drop it off. Please click HERE for the registration form.

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Congratulations to Class of 2015, Cade Sorrells who hit a grand slam to lead Lipscomb University to a 9-3 victory over host Ohio State!

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Today's In Focus is Proudly Sponsored by PureTalk USA - The McFarland Family

Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program? Contact Jeanie Beach at jbeach@gwa.com or call 678-635-3812.