In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

April 26, 2018

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Redefining the Middle School Experience

By: Megan Sims, Art Teacher

GWA middle school teachers are excited to embark on a new educational journey with our students to ensure they transition into high school, and beyond, as prepared independent problem solvers eager to make their marks on the world.

The middle school teachers have come together to create a new middle school experience that will include:

  • implementing consistent teaching methods to emphasize good study habits that will continue through all middle school years.
  • kicking off the new school year with an introduction to study skills methods including effective time management and organization fundamentals.
  • focusing on efficient note-taking practices, reading strategically, researching effectively, practical test preparation strategies and more. These methods will be reinforced across all academic disciplines in the middle school.

The new schedule, which will be introduced with the 2018-19 school year, incorporates more flexible time, expands learning opportunities, and enhances instructional possibilities. Students will have opportunities throughout the school year to collaborate with their peers while working on more project-based learning assignments. They will take a hands-on approach that will combine elements from all academic subjects and have real-world applications. There will also be ongoing opportunities for students to give back to the local community by participating in various service projects. The flexible time will also allow us to have guest speakers, pep rallies, and assemblies without disrupting or shortening class time. We are so excited, we can hardly wait for students to experience the fantastic things coming this fall!

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Dino Days

It is a nearly universal rule that kids love dinosaurs. These creatures inspire a bundle of questions from children from “Where did dinosaurs go?” to “What noises did they make?”, and “Were they really that big?” These creatures really have our kid’s brains turning. Early interests that children develop and master are called intense interests. A 2008 study found that sustained intense interests, like those they have with dinosaurs, can foster increased knowledge and persistence, a better attention span and deeper information-processing skills.

Students in Ms. Sherre and Ms. Jennifer’s class are learning all about dinosaurs through two different activities. They acted as investigators to match the correct traits to each dinosaur. By using flash cards, students pieced together body traits, diet specifications, and more. They can recall which ones were herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores at ease. They also had the chance to “build a dinosaur” by placing q-tips on paper to represent the bones in a dinosaur’s body.

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GWA students gathered with over 1000 Latin participants at the State Latin Convention. Rock Eagle 4-H Center holds the weekend-long convention where students learn and compete in multiple educational and physical fields including academics, art, sports and drama. GWA also had the opportunity to host a workshop on roman weaving.

Congratulations to our students who won competitions!

50yd dash - Tatiana Bolds, fifth place
50yd dash - Graham Fenn, first place
Impromptu Art - Alicia Shaw, fifth place
Graphic Arts, Decorative Stitching - Alicia Shaw, fourth place
Talent Show “That’s Entertainment!” - second place, Brenan Holston, Evan Fennell, Cole Aukes, Graham Fenn for their percussion performance

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Paint Your Path Day

GWA Seniors decorated their uniforms with logos and phrases that represent their next path in life. In addition, seniors met with their first graders and had them complete their ensemble by adding their handprint. Seniors proudly sported their next path in life as part of the first annual “Paint Your Path Day."

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The Perfect Shot

Sixth-grader Jordan Smothers has had a busy season in the shooting sports. He led the Walton County 4-H BB gun team to victory in the Orion National BB Gun League Championships with a score of 406.1 and a team score of 2009.8 against Pierre, South Dakota with a score of 1991.0! Additionally, The Walton County 4-H BB Gun Team set a NRA National Record for High Team Score at The Kiwanis State Championships, April 10th. Smothers will be traveling with the Walton County 4-H BB Gun Team to Rogers, AR. July 1-4, to compete in the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match.

Additionally, he shoots the 3 position Sporter Air Rifle and qualified and shot in the CMP Regional Championships in Anniston, AL. Last weekend, Smothers shot at the 2018 CMP Junior Olympic 3 position Air Rifle State Qualifier and was sixth, with his personal best score of 522. Jordan has qualified for the 2018 NRA National Junior Air Rifle Championships, in Bloomington, IL, this summer. Way to go Jordan!

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All The Right Moves

GWA's Chess Club traveled to Marist High School for the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) Chess Tournament. They joined over 130 chess enthusiasts ages five to 13. GWA came home with sixth-place for elementary chess and seventh for middle school chess. Checkmate!

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Can You Dig It?

As part of senior year traditions, the seniors and faculty compete for bragging rights at a year end volleyball tournament. Both teams came to win! This year we had an incredible turn out with over 30 faculty members and most of the senior class in attendance. New comer Peter Van Wyk showed his hidden talent, saving many attempted points by the seniors. It is not clear who won as both are claiming first place! We do know one thing, it was a great time! Congratulations to both teams!

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It's time to register for the exciting variety of summer camps that GWA has to offer! To learn about the opportunities your child can enjoy this summer, click here.
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Let The Big Dawg Eat

By: Grace Martin, Assistant to the Athletic Director

Springtime marks the transition to warmer weather and outdoor activities. It brings new growth. The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about this time of the year is spring football. There are 10 days in the spring when the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) allows football coaches to meet with their players, work on skills, offensive and defensive schemes and hold practices. Coaches can use this practice time to evaluate current players on the team and also evaluate players who decide to try football for the first time.

This year, we started a new tradition at George Walton Academy with our first annual “Let the Big Dawg Eat” dinner. This event was held to kick off spring football at GWA and give coaches an opportunity to meet players new to the program. It also enabled players to meet everyone involved with football at our school. In addition, new staff members were introduced and information was given to the parents and players about the 10 days of spring practice. Schedules including practice times, workouts and summer camps for May, June and July were distributed. GWA staff showed off the practice gear to all and also reviewed safety precautions that our GWA coaches implement. Overall, the goal for our “Let the Big Dawg Eat” dinner was to raise awareness of spring football, pass out the information for spring and summer, and provide a meal to create a time of fellowship for our current players and those GWA students contemplating playing football for the upcoming season.

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Closing The Regular Season with a Win

Varsity baseball got the W against second-ranked Jackson High School this past weekend. This concludes all regular season games. The team begins play-off games at home on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Good luck, Dawgs!

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Our GWA varsity soccer girls wrapped up their season with a win again Westminster. The score was 4-3. We are so proud!
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Duck Stamp Winners

Annually, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service hosts an art competition that raises awareness for conservation. Students from kindergarten to 12th grade participate each year and a panel of five judges selects the winner. Congratulations to our students who were recognized during the annual Junior Duck Stamp Competition. Those honored were:

First Place:

Peyton Reese Wilson

Morgan Inman

Second Place:

Phillip Akin

Chloe Arnold

Third Place:
Kaylee Young

Trace Wilson

Honorable Mention:

Riley Cooper

Hollis Keebaugh

Liam Gravitt

Collin Cown

Stevie Felton

Collin Mercer

Conservation Message State Finalist:

Hayden Byers, “Wildlife keeps the ecosystem in balance. Conservation is how we keep the balance.”

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Dessert Theatre

The Chorus department presented a sweet treat this past weekend. Middle school and upper school choirs performed Disney selections that ranged from classics to modern favorites like Frozen and Hannah Montana. Beyond choir selections, the concert included solos, duets and small groups. A senior goodbye closed out the Saturday performance and was icing on the cake!

“I saw things that I haven’t seen in practice brought to the table during the performances,” said chorus teacher Ammie Bruce. Bruce was thrilled with both nights, noting an exceptional turnout.

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We The People

Third and fourth-grade students performed their patriotic musical “We The People” for family, friends and students. Pieces of the musical were written by the students themselves. They displayed a love for our nation as well as their musical and artistic talent. Student Ishmael Rainford said,”I liked this musical because I got to learn about our country too. Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the national bird to be a wild turkey?“ Way to go third and fourth graders!

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Spring Band Performance

Join our band program for their spring performance on May 1 at 7 p.m. in the Nicholson Center. All are welcome!

Bullpup Band and Percussion Theatre Concert

You are in for a treat! The Bullpup Band and our Percussion Theatre students will perform at 6 p.m. on May 8. Join us in the Nicholson Center to enjoy the results of all of their hard work!
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GWA: Where Passions Begin

Alumna Molly Devine exemplifies what it means to learn your passions in high school and then carry them out for years to come. Involved in many of GWA’s extracurricular organizations, Devine said that through activities such as cheerleading, student council and Gavel Club, she learned invaluable skills such as public speaking, organization and a love for community service. Through her involvement, she was even able to learn about the inner workings of government and participate in mock legislation, which relates well to what she is doing now!

Divine is currently working as the Director of Marketing for Hosea Cleveland, who is currently seeking election to the United States House of Representatives. Through this position, she handles the campaign’s outreach efforts, fundraising, media and event planning. Through her involvement, she hopes to gain experience and insight to potentially run for office herself one day. Divine says that her favorite part of her job is having an opportunity to represent her community and having a platform from which she can encourage political efforts among young people.

Divine is passionate about helping young people get involved in the world of politics. She said, “The most importance advice I can give is that it is imperative for our generation to be informed and to make our voices heard… Get involved, stay involved, and put all of your passion into it!”

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On The Road With Mr. Clancy

In the field of college admissions, April is when seniors mull over their offers and university admissions departments try to convince them to choose their institutions. It is not a particularly busy time in most high school college counseling offices, so this is when many colleges host events designed for counselors. These can range from an event at a single institution for one day or more, to a tour of several colleges. In most cases, the university, or group of universities, assumes the cost of accommodations and transportation. These “fly-ins” allow counselors to learn more about an institution by touring facilities while students are still on campus, meeting with current students, interacting with faculty and receiving updates and guidance from the admissions team.

Invites usually go out through different professional organizations such as the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools, the National Association of College Admissions Counseling or the Southern Association of College Admissions Counseling, the latter two of which George Walton is a member. I received dozens of invites to apply to different tours and fly-ins and applied for a few that included institutions I thought would be a good fit for George Walton students. My application to Berry College’s inaugural Counselor Conference was successful and I was waitlisted by Vanderbilt and the Ohio Six Tour, which included Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wittenberg University, and the College of Wooster. As luck would have it, I was taken off the waitlist for both events days before Spring Break. Read complete article.

May 22 - Colleges That Change Lives Fair

CTCL is a group of small, liberal arts, primarily undergraduate, teaching colleges that are regionally well known and have graduate school placement rates better than most Ivy League schools. Go to for more information.

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Teacher Appreciation Week

Mon., May 7 Snacks Distributed to Teacher/Staff Mailboxes

We need several parents to each provide 24 snacks (brownies, cookies, trail mix, etc.) to be dropped off to Elizabeth McDonel’s office at 8 a.m. Monday morning.

Tues., May 8 Desserts for Luncheon (provided by Student Council)

We need several parents to provide desserts (please provide enough to serve 12 people) to be dropped off at 8 a.m. that morning in Elizabeth McDonel’s office.

Thurs., May 10 Breakfast

We need several parents to provide casseroles, sausage, biscuits, fruit, muffins, etc. (please provide enough to serve 12 people) to be dropped off by 7:30 a.m. in the cafeteria that morning.

Fri., May 11 Gifts

We would greatly appreciate gifts “in kind”, meaning if you have event tickets that you are not using or if you haven’t used all of your Starbuck gift cards from Christmas, or have a lake house that one of our faculty could use for the weekend, please consider donating them. We need numerous items and appreciate all donations which should be brought to Elizabeth McDonel’s office by Wed. May 11.

We count on our families to help us express our appreciation to our teachers and staff during this special week. If you plan to participate, please send an email to so we can plan appropriately. Thank you!

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