In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

April 18, 2019

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Key Deadlines & Dates

  • School Holiday: April 19
  • Upper School Best of the Best banquet: April 23
  • 3rd/4th Grade Musical: April 24
  • Field Day: April 26
  • Lower School Early Dismissal: April 26
  • Spring Dance Performance, Fairyland: April 26
  • Piano Recitals: April 28
  • Band Spring Concert: April 30
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George Walton Academy has celebrated many athletic achievements this school year and our teams are finishing strong with a standout Spring!

This season marked an impressive showing by the Lady Bulldog tennis team that fought hard and won the region tournament last Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs will face Strong Rock Christian in the first round of the state playoffs at home on Monday, April 22 at 2:30 p.m.

The men’s soccer team is currently 9-4 and will participate in the state playoffs for the first time in the school’s history. The girls varsity soccer team concludes their season tonight. They’ve shown tremendous improvement throughout the season and we look forward to seeing the program continue to grow over the coming years.

Varsity baseball has continued its winning tradition and will likely host the first round of the state playoffs at home.

GWA golfers also shared in the school’s athletic success this year when they won first place in the Monroe Area Hurricane Classic.

Finally, in its impressive inaugural season, the men's lacrosse team defeated 6-A Brookwood High School 10-8 on Monday night.

There is no doubt that George Walton Academy has raised the athletic bar this season with several outstanding individual and team performances. In order to keep up the momentum for the 2019-20 school year, there will be an important meeting on April 25 for all upper school student-athletes, including rising ninth graders and their parents. This first annual Bulldog Athletic Meeting will provide information regarding each sport offered at GWA. After a brief welcome from our Athletic Director Mark Whitley, there will be grade level break out sessions featuring discussions on weight training and nutrition, TeamSnap, recruiting, and parent volunteers needed for each sport.

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Global Studies - Making an Impact

Unscripted Moments for Students at Every Learning Level

The term “global studies” often makes us think of traveling across borders – and indeed, we take students to foreign countries every year. Students in upper school have opportunities to participate in one of our exchanges in Spain, France or South Africa, or travel on cultural tours to the Galapagos Islands or Italy. We even have students taking courses on campus to prepare them for their time abroad, as with the students who take a semester long global health course (a collaborative with Duke University and Johns Hopkins University) before they travel to rural Belize to help the local population with basic medical care and health skills.

Whether our students leave campus or not, we want them to be exposed to ideas and projects that have global significance and help them find their place within those larger issues. In today’s world, with increased globalization and interconnectivity, we don’t want our students to graduate without the knowledge that they have the power to change the world – both at home and abroad. Gaining the ability to problem-solve, think critically, be adaptable, and collaborate with their peers is essential to their success in college and beyond.

Our lower and middle school students are being exposed to global issues at young ages, traveling throughout the nation to extend their learning beyond the classroom. Our fourth graders just returned from space camp in Huntsville, AL, where they took part in missions to the moon and had to be flexible with “on the job training” and working with their peers in pressurized simulations. Similarly, our eighth graders travelled to the Challenger Center in Chattanooga, TN, which enabled them to learn the importance of working as a team in an orderly fashion. In their presented scenario, NASA was carrying out a mission on Mars where complications arose that demanded life or death decisions be made for those astronauts and scientists on the ground of the red planet. The best part was that students were thrown into the scenario with little to no direct instruction from the staff of the Challenger Center. It was experiential problem solving at its best!

These are the types of experiences we want all of our students to have over the course of their education at GWA. Many of the skills they will need for college and employment are not tangible lessons learned in the classroom; rather, soft-skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, agility and adaptability, and initiative – all of which are often best “caught” in unscripted moments of hands-on learning where students are growing intellectually on the spot. While we anchor our curriculum in the classroom, we take every opportunity for students to have these unscripted moments that we believe can change the course of their educational journey for the better. Tune in next week for another glimpse into how we are taking our learning beyond the classroom!

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Student Trip of a Lifetime To Croatia

Where: Croatia

When: June 8-16, 2020

Cost: $3,990 – includes airfare, all accommodation/transportation costs, excursions, medical insurance, all breakfasts and some dinners

Who: Upper school students (must have completed freshman year by May 2020)

Why: Croatia is perhaps one of the most unique countries in Europe, and sits on the opposite side of the Mediterranean as Italy. The country is known for its incredible natural beauty and cinematographic history, hosting one of the HBO's most popular shows Game of Thrones. George Walton students and trip leaders will embark on an experience of a lifetime, zip-lining across the Cetina River, exploring the famous Plitvice Lakes, sea kayaking on the island of Hvar, and touring the famous historical structures that made Game of Thrones what it was!

For more information, or to register, go to

Questions? Contact Femke Côté at

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GWA is pleased to welcome Cara Benefield as the new AP Biology, AP Environmental Science and Honors Biology teacher. With master's degrees in Environmental Science and Science Education from Oregon State University and a bachelor's degree in Biology with Honors from the University of Oregon, she specializes in teaching biology, human anatomy and physiology, as well as science research. She developed several innovative programs in her previous role at an Oregon school, including establishment of an Independent Science Research Projects class wherein students planned, conducted, analyzed, then presented research of their own design at regional competitions. "Through this unique project-based learning challenge, my students became more capable writers, speakers, and problem-solvers," Cara said. She also helped plan and traveled with over 50 students between four tours to Central America and Europe. Amidst these endeavors, and her regular classroom load, she also found the time to teach college credit human anatomy and physiology for eight years. Cara says, "I would love to continue putting time and energy into similar programs at GWA."

​Dineen Shubert brings 29 years of elementary teaching experience to GWA's first grade program. She holds an education specialist degree from the University of West Georgia, a master's in education from State University of West Georgia and a bachelor's degree from West Georgia College. She tells us she is committed to instilling in students "a love of reading, writing and expression, math, science and social studies through guided, shared and independent exercises including but not limited to book projects, creative writing assignments, Diorama creations, oral presentations, and the use of math manipulatives.​" She has a broad range of experience in maximizing potential in each student, from those who may need additional academic support to developing activities and exercises for gifted learners. She believes in incorporating technology in the learning process and has experience serving as the coach of the First Lego Robotics Team.

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Consider Hosting an International Student

GWA families have the opportunity to make a dream come true for two students from Germany and Spain. Our partner, Education First (EF), provides opportunities for students to spend a year studying in another country and they have identified two students - Amanda and Gerard - that they feel would be a great fit for GWA.

Dr. Dolan and his family believe in the benefits of this meaningful program and are hosting a student in their home this year. "I can say that the students who are drawn to participate in these kinds of programs are really neat kids," said Dr. Dolan. "We enjoy hosting Thea very much. It is a time and financial commitment on the part of the host family, but the school has arranged for two new scholarships to be dedicated to international students next year and students come with their own spending money. We highly recommend this experience and encourage other GWA families to consider hosting Amanda or Gerard for the 2019-2020 school year."

For more information, please contact Sherry Coffman, EF Local Coordinator, 770-866-3884,

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Check Out Our New 50th Anniversary Car Tag!

Deck your car out with this replica of a tag produced for GWA in the early years. Be sure to purchase one and show your bulldog pride! They are on sale in the Dawg Shop.
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Rotary Student of the Month

Andre Payne has been selected as Rotary Student of the Month for April. He chose Jessie Croft as Rotary Teacher of the Month. Andre has earned academic Honor Roll throughout high school, attended the National Student Leadership Conference and participates in Beta Club. He is a member of the GWA varsity football and track teams. His volunteer activities include participation in special needs baseball games and feeding the homeless during the holidays. Andre will continue his education and play football at Berry College. He plans to study engineering and pursue a graduate degree. Congratulations to Andre and Mrs. Croft!

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Congrats Matthew McMain on Your Naval Academy Acceptance!

Congressman Jody Hice visited GWA today to recognize Matthew McMain’s acceptance to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Before a crowd of family, friends and faculty, Matthew signed his official Pledge of Commitment to the Academy as well as his commitment to serve his country. Congratulations and best wishes, Matthew!
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An Educational Quest at Jekyll

GWA fifth graders enjoyed an educational adventure during their annual field trip to the Jekyll Island 4-H Center. They explored the unique ecosystems found in this coastal environment. Students attended classes on beach ecology, herpetology and the maritime forest. The group toured the Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Center and learned about preservation of the natural resources and wildlife found in the surrounding habitat. They learned to use a seine, dissected sharks and went on a dolphin cruise. This much-anticipated trip offers our fifth graders an exciting opportunity to engage, learn and discover!
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Blast Off to Space Camp!

The fourth grade recently took a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama to attend the Pathfinder Space Camp. This trip went along well with their science curriculum on Space. While at Space Camp, they were involved in mock mission control simulations to get a first-hand look at what it takes to launch a rocket into space, building and launching rockets, learning about the history of space exploration, and other activities that gave them an idea of how an astronaut trains for and lives in space. It was a great experience not only for the students but for the chaperones and teachers. Several students have already decided to pursue more in-depth knowledge of the space program, and have expressed an interest to come back on their own to attend other space camp programs offered by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

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(Not just for athletes)

With field day right around the corner, it is a great time to talk about good sportsmanship . This is not one of those “everyone’s a winner” kind of talks because in sports and in life, no one wins all the time. As a child, this can be tough to understand.

Teaching and practicing good sportsmanship early on will help your kiddos learn that winning is not the only goal.

Call me cheesy, but I say it’s not about who wins or loses, but how you play the game that matters most. Yes, winning is awesome! But it is never worth compromising your character.

Consider these questions to gauge good sportsmanship:

● Did you have a good attitude OR complain and talk back to the coach?

● Did you play fairly OR bend the rules (even a little)?

● Did you show up and give your best effort OR phone it in?

● Did you treat your opponents with respect OR contempt?

● Were you a team-player OR a bossy ball hog?

● Were you encouraging and supportive OR overly critical of teammates?

Regardless of the outcome, it is always a choice to show good sportsmanship. This lesson goes beyond field day and even athletics. Like it or not, everyone is part of at least one team - at work, home, or school. Are you being a good sport in life? Revisit the list of questions above and consider your everyday attitude and actions. Think of how you treat your teammates (family, friends, & co-workers), your coach (boss), and your opponents (fill in the blank). I’ll admit that I want to do a better job myself. Fortunately, it’s never too late to practice and model good sportsmanship.

Have a fun and friendly field day!

Lindsey Bailey

Lower School Counselor

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Veni, Vidi, Vici

George Walton’s JCL (Junior Classical League) or Latin Club attended the 2019 GJCL State Convention held last weekend at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center. The group participated in the Roman Procession dressed in togas while carrying a Roman standard to represent their chapter of JCL. They competed in exams and other contests with the following students placing in competition:

  • Anna Swope won 3rd on the Level 1 Reading Comprehension Exam
  • Colin Fennell won 3rd place on the Level 2 Latin Derivatives Exam
  • Alicia Shaw won 4th place in Decorative Stitching

Also, Elizabeth Pope and Taylor Grossman were one of only 10 acts to make it through auditions to be in the Saturday night talent show, "That’s Entertainment!" They performed a dance/baton twirling routine and the crowd loved it!

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GWA Hosts Relay for Life

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 cancer. To be part of this life-changing event, CLICK HERE to access the registration form, or contact Director of Dawgs 360 Elizabeth Mcdonel at for more information.

Survivor Dinner: GWA is partnering with First Baptist to host this special dinner on Friday, May 3. If you are a cancer survivor and/or know someone who is, 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

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 CLICK HERE to access the order form. You may contact Elizabeth McDonel at for more information. 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

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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 click HERE for more information regarding Teacher Appreciation Week.

Please email Elizabeth McDonel at to get involved!

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GWA Symphonic Winds Bring Harmony to Charleston

George Walton Academy was well-represented at the Charleston Music Festival as the GWA top ensemble, Symphonic Winds, performed and earned an excellent rating. The group of 31 students made the weekend trip complete with sightseeing in Charleston and time at the beach. Congrats to all on an outstanding performance!
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You’re invited to the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts Reception for the High School Student Art Show!
Thursday, April 18 @ 6—7:30 pm
Scholarships awarded by SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design)
For artists, families & community!
Located at 205 South Broad Street, Monroe

Enjoy an exhibit filled with award-winning works by talented art students from every high school in Walton County- including GWA. The gallery opens at 11 a.m. on Thursday (this is the last day for the show). Hope to see you there!

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Congrats to Noah Coleman on Your Scholarship to East Georgia State!

Congratulations and best wishes to Noah Coleman on his signing day! He will play baseball and continue his education with East Georgia State College in Swainsboro.
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Senior Spring Athletes Enjoy Special Honors

We celebrated GWA senior athletes this week as Senior Night festivities were held for soccer, baseball, golf, lacrosse and tennis. Congratulations to our student athletes as well as their families and best of luck to those continuing into post-season play. Go Bulldogs!

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Middle School Basketball Tryouts

Attention all rising seventh and eighth grade girls that are interested in playing on the middle school girls basketball team! Tryouts will be held April 29 - May 1, from 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. in the middle gym. Anyone trying out must have a physical on file.
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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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Interested in advertising through our Corporate Partnership program?

Contact Jeanie Beach at or call 678-635-3812.