In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

May 3, 2018

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Making an I.M.P.A.C.T

Dear Bulldog Families and Friends,

George Walton Academy has made a remarkable and positive difference in the lives of thousands of young men and women throughout its long and proud history. Every once in a while, a school is blessed with the opportunity to expand that positive influence and impact not only the students currently enrolled, but to extend that reach to the next generation of students. This chance does not come along very often for every school, and when it does, it is indeed a strategic moment in the history of that institution. For GWA, that moment is now.

With enrollment ahead of last year’s numbers, facilities improving, academics continuing to take center stage, athletics receiving outstanding recognition, and our fine and performing arts programs poised to build on their tradition of excellence, we have the opportunity to advance our school to new and wonderful heights. Please carefully and prayerfully consider supporting the I.M.P.A.C.T. campaign. The excitement surrounding the campaign has been heartening and the support enthusiastic, but GWA still needs your help! Please contact Jeanie Beach to learn how to get involved and make an impact for generations to come. Go Dawgs!


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An Unexpected Phone Call

By Sarah Catoe, AP Literature Student

AP Literature students were star struck when well-known teacher and poet, Taylor Mali, surprised the class with a FaceTime call. What brought about this “chance” encounter?

Every year, each student of AP Literature chooses an author/poet to study all year. They make presentations, research biographies, analyze the writers' major works, and even pen letters to the authors. Most students commented that they did not expect their chosen writer to respond, and neither did Mrs. Taylor, who promised that if anyone did make contact, she’d throw a party.

In the middle of class last Tuesday, as students were reading Hamlet, Mrs. Taylor’s phone rang. She moved to her desk to retrieve it, and quickly handed the phone to Tori Chapman, who had written to Mr. Mali the week before. All the students, including Tori, were in disbelief as they gathered around the phone. The poet we've seen performing poems such as “What Teachers Make” and “Like Whatever, You Know” was now talking to us, live from Brooklyn, New York. After receiving Tori’s letter, he had researched George Walton Academy and had made contact with Mrs. Taylor, who helped him execute his plan.

After several minutes of questions and answers, the conversation ended with Mr. Mali telling Tori that he had written to her. When she received his package later that day, she commented, “He’s my idol. He sent me a really great personal letter, a signed poem of his that I really like, and an unpublished poem he’s putting in his next collection!”

We were all so grateful for the experience and will remember it forever. Jeffery Craven commented on the encounter saying, “He seemed like a really down-to-earth, nice guy.” Rachel Eady, speaking for the class, said, “We were honored to get to speak with a real poet whose work we had studied.” Thank you, Mr. Taylor Mali, for sharing your time with our class. And, by the way, Mrs. Taylor did host the party!

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Poem In My Pocket

Fifth graders celebrated National Poetry Month by participating in “Poem In My Pocket Day.” Students strolled around campus with their chosen poem in hand, searching for students, faculty and staff who would hear them recite their poems. They were challenged to share the poems in their pockets to at least five individuals that they saw either at the playground, the courtyard, cafeteria, library or their buildings.

Future Engineers in the Making?

Ever wondered what's happening in Robotics & Engineering Design at GWA? Click above to enjoy a glimpse behind the scenes!
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Recognizing Student Success

Students are honored at end of the year banquets for both academic achievements and community involvement. This week over 200 upper school students were recognized during the Best of the Best banquet, our Honor's Program banquet, and the Beta Club/NHS induction ceremony.

To achieve Best of the Best, a student must fit at least one the following criteria:

Criteria 1:

- Maintain a 90 or above average per quarter for all Academic courses for the year

- Maintain an 85 or above per quarter for all Honors courses for the year

- Maintain an 80 or above average per quarter for all Advanced Placement courses for the year.

Criteria 2:

- Seniors with a cumulative average of 98 or above

Criteria 3:

All- State in a GHSA sport, GHSA Literary Competition or George Music Educators Association (GMEA) Band/Chrous

To see a list of those who were named Best of the Best, click HERE!

To be invited to the yearly Honors Program, you must maintain a yearly average of at least 87 or qualify for the Effort and Achievement Awards.

To see a list of all students who were invited to the Honors Program, click HERE!

We also awarded 41 Beta Club stoles and 27 National Honors Society (NHS) stoles to our graduating class. To be in Beta Club you must maintain a 90 cumulative average and have five service hours. To be in NHS you must maintain a 93 cumulative average and have 3 service hours.

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LITTLE White House Teaches BIG Lessons

Eighth graders visited Franklin D. Roosevelt's Little White House & Therapeutic Pools in Warms Springs. They learned about FDR’s connection with the people of Georgia and how the policies of the New Deal helped our state overcome adversity.
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A Fun Way to Explore the State Capitol

As part of their study of Georgia history, fourth-grade students visited the State Capitol. They participated in a scavenger hunt where state history questions led them to important parts of the building.

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Student Stand-Out!

Congratulations to the Rotary Club Student of the Year, Megan McGoldrick. This award is voted on by teachers throughout the school year and each month a student showing exemplary academic standards and exceptional community involvement is chosen. At the end of the year, one of the eight monthly winners is chosen to be the student of the year.
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A Sweet Day at the Strawberry Fields

It's easy to see how much the K5 student enjoyed their trip to Washington Farms in Watkinsville. First, they learned about strawberry plants and the way that they grow. They also visited the petting zoo which had rabbits, donkeys, chickens, goats and peacocks. Although most of the kids really enjoyed this part of the trip, kindergartner Isaac Tate said, “I just want to pick strawberries!” Then the students took a ride through the farm on a tractor-pulled trailer and ended the ride at the strawberry field. After picking strawberries and lunch, they finished the trip in the playground area which included a corn box, a pirate ship to play on, a sand box and ride-on vehicles. It was a beautiful day to be outside with their GWA friends!

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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 9.

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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Season Ends with Close Games

The varsity baseball team played Providence Christian Academy in the first round of state this past weekend. They battled in a double header on Friday winning the first game 2-1 and losing the second one 4-3. They played a third game Saturday and fought hard, but lost 2-3. They finished the season 17-14. We are so proud of these athletes and wish our graduating seniors all the best in the future!

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Golfers Headed to State

The golf team had a great showing on Monday! The team traveled to Jennings Mill Country Club to play in the area tournament. Lucy Walker and Riley Shubert will represent GWA at the state tournament on May 21-22 in McDonough. Congratulations!

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Big Win For Our Majorettes

This past weekend, our GWA twirlers competed at Spring Jam. The competition was held at Hart County High School and eleven Bulldogs competed. Between them, they claimed 58 placements and came home with first place in the middle school team competition!

Sixth-grader Catherine Atkinson was named Beginner Miss Majorette of GA. She will represent Georgia at the Beginner Miss Majorette of America competition held at The University of Notre Dame in July.

Congratulations to those who competed!

Catherine Atkinson

Reese Behnke

Callie Carper

Morgan Green

Taylor Grossman

Addie Harvey

Cheyanne Romer

Blakeney Sewell

Ava Shurling

Morgan Staples

Payton Stone

We are so proud of you!

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The Building Blocks of Character

Our lower school character assemblies concluded with Bible teacher Sarah Smith speaking about being a family at home, as well a part of a GWA family at school. Smith used a Jenga set to build a firm foundation for a family based on things such as patience, respect, honesty, encouragement, and love. She then demonstrated that when we take away those things or we don't participate as a family member it leaves holes in the tower. Every block (person) matters. She wrapped it up by pointing out that God is always willing to be our foundation block if we ask him to be.

FIELD DAY FUN! Click image to play the video.

Field Day Fun

Field day allows our lower school students to play outside together, moving their bodies and enjoying a much-needed break from the classroom. As always, the firetruck was a huge hit, however other crowd favorites included three-legged races, inflated obstacle courses and the dunking booth.

GWA's annual tradition is a race between the black team and the red team to end the morning. While the race was only inches apart, Mr. Cloud announced the black team as this year's winner.

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GWA Captures Best In Show in County Competition

Congratulations to all of the talented artists who represented GWA in the Walton County High School art show at the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts. Winners were selected by the academic dean of SCAD. Kaitlyn Rutledge won the first place prize as she received the “Best in Show” title. Suhani Rama won second place for digital photography, Larkin Leming won second place for drawing and painting. Sarah Catoe, Sarah Sykes and CC Veal all received honorable mentions for their art. We are proud of all of their hard work!
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Making Musical Waves

Congratulations to senior Michelle Miles. She received the Presidential Scholarship from Southern Wesleyan University in Central, SC. She will attend SWU this fall to study exercise science and play French horn. Michelle will be a part of a program that gives her the opportunity to march with the Clemson University Tiger Band.

She has won many academic and music related awards throughout her time at GWA. Some notable include Best of the Best, band president and US All American Marching Band participant. Her achievements are a result of continuous dedication to bother her and music and her academics. Best wishes, Michelle!

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Chorus Presents Shrek

Join our chorus department as they bring Shrek's swamp to life during their musical performance of the popular children's movie. The event is Friday, May 4th in the lower gym and the performance will begin at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

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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Alumnus Credits GWA for Successful Foundation

Ross Bradley’s (’07) career in the food industry started simultaneously with his high school graduation. He has always had a passion for relationships and service, so working at a local restaurant seemed to fit perfectly. 10 years later, he and fellow alumnus Andrew Williams (’08) co-own two Your Pie locations and they are bringing two new restaurants to the Monroe area.

Bradley says, “Your Pie Monroe will be opening this fall… This may be our last Your Pie for the foreseeable future, but we plan to do everything we can to serve Monroe in the best possible way.” Although there may not be an additional Your Pie on the horizon for this dynamic duo, they do have another adventure in the works. “We are creating Silver Queen, because we wanted to grow a company that is our own… The end goal: we want to revolutionize the way people eat tacos across the entire nation.

Silver Queen offers tacos and other south of the border items. They will open their doors next to Rinse, but in the meantime you can find the pair and their chef, Wes Kent, offering delicious selections out of their food truck.

Bradley credits much of his success to his time at GWA mentioning the school structure, behavior expectations and challenging curriculum. He says, “GWA is a big family. We treat every member of our team, in the restaurants, the same exact way.” Look for both Your Pie and Silver Queen coming soon!

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When it comes to AP courses and dual depends.

By Michael Clancy, Director of College Counseling

As high school students choose their courses for the coming academic year, I field many questions regarding whether a student should take an AP, dual enrollment, honors or regular course. First, allow me to define those terms, so we all have a similar understanding.

AP is an abbreviation for Advanced Placement. AP courses made their initial appearance in some elite, New England prep schools in the early 1950s. Administration of the AP was taken over by the College Board (Yes, the SAT people) in 1955. In May of 1956, 1,229 students from 104 different high schools took 2,199 exams and those results were accepted by 130 universities. In May of 2017, more than 2.7-million students from more than 22-thousand schools took slightly less than 5-million AP exams and those results are recognized by 4,221 universities. AP course offerings have grown from 11 in 1956 to 38 in 2017. George Walton currently offers 15 AP courses. 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. The Fair is at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, Augusta Conference Center from 2-5. The address is 210 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303. To pre-register, please visit

May 23 - Informative Session

Four colleges will give a presentation (Brandeis, Case-Western Reserve, NYU and University of Rochester) at 7:00 PM at the JW Marriott Buckhead. The address is 3300 Lennox Road NE, Atlanta GA 30326. For more information or to pre-register, go to:

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