In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

August 10, 2017

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Dear Bulldog Families and Friends:


Welcome back! As I write this letter, students are again walking the halls and gearing up for another great year at George Walton Academy. Spirits are high and optimism abounds – classic hallmarks of a first day. I’ve seen a lot of familiar faces this morning and also plenty of new faces, and I’m excited about the group of Bulldogs we’re welcoming to campus this year.


This summer was productive, constructive, and (as always) a little short. I’d like to thank Todd Shelnutt’s crew and also Melanie Lattimore and her crew for putting in so many hours of hard work to make campus look its best. You’ve also probably noticed a few changes that extend beyond appearances; we’ve welcomed several new faculty members, introduced a few new courses, and decorated many of our halls with student artwork. I love seeing the talent of our students proudly displayed around the school. We have much to celebrate!


If we haven’t seen you around campus lately, I invite you to come take a walk around and become an active participant in the GWA community. Get involved by joining Dawgs 360, taking in a volleyball match or softball game, or attending our annual Ice Cream Social later this month. I’m excited for the year ahead and hope to see you all soon.


Dan

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Thanks for Your Help on Campus Cleanup Day!

We had a great crew of faculty, staff, parents and students turn out for last Saturday's campus cleanup. Not only does GWA look fantastic for our first week of the 2017-2018 school year, but this event was also a wonderful opportunity for the school community to come together. Thanks, Bulldogs!
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Changes to Student Lunch Accounts

In an effort to make payments and processes as easy as possible for parents, SAGE Dining is switching over student lunch account numbers to match students’ RenWeb ID numbers. This change will NOT affect the majority of our students, as most already use their RenWeb IDs in the lunch line.


What does this change mean?


  • All students will now need to use the last four digits of their RenWeb ID number as their PIN to pay for meals in the cafeteria line. Most students already use a RenWeb ID, but if your child uses the old student ID number, he or she will need to make the switch over to this new four-digit PIN.

  • Homeroom teachers can give students their four-digit PIN (the last four digits of their RenWeb ID), and Will Angel in the cafeteria can also look it up for students in the lunch line.

  • If you’re trying to load money onto your child’s account using the MyPaymentsPlus portal and receive an “inactive account” error message, please contact Will Angel directly. He can help you fix this issue by switching over your student ID number to the RenWeb ID number.


Have a question or need help? You can get a hold of Will by emailing him at w.angel@sagedining.com or by calling (678) 635-3834.

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Don't Miss Fall's Afterschool Program Opportunities

Classes are back in session, and our afterschool activity camps are starting up again soon! Check out our current offerings:


  • Perfectly Polished: An etiquette, leadership, self-esteem, confidence building and dance class offered for students in fifth and sixth grades. You won't want to miss this one! Tuesdays, 3:15-4:15 p.m. Cost: $300 for 11 weeks of classes.

  • Guitar Camp: Come learn to play guitar! One class will be offered for students in third and fourth grades, and another for students in fifth grade and up. Space is limited. Wednesdays, 2:30-3:15 p.m. for lower school students; 3:15-4:15 p.m. for middle and high school students. Cost: $200 for the entire fall semester.

  • eSports Camp: Competition, teamwork and skill building using eSports platforms. Offered for students in first grade and up. Space is limited. Thursdays, 3:30-5 p.m. Cost: $150 for seven weeks of classes.

  • Interested in a Dance Camp? Let us know! Tentative dates and times are on Tuesdays or Thursdays, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Offered for students in K4 and up. Separate classes will be held for different age groups. Email Peggy Jordan if you're interested in this option.


Contact Peggy Jordan to sign up for any of the afterschool activity camps listed above. Hurry space is limited, and some classes begin next week!

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From History Department Chair Karen Barrett: Summer Trip to Ireland and Scotland Full of Myths and Legends

For 14 days this summer, 18 students, four teachers and eight adults had the amazing opportunity to travel through the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. The trip’s faculty chaperones (Dr. Cook, Mr. and Mrs. Reagan, and myself) had the opportunity to customize the tour to focus on the castles, myths and legends of these ancient lands.


Our first stop on the Emerald Isle was a jaunty ride through the misty Killarney National Forest. The family who operated the rides had been doing so for 100 years and regaled us with the myths and legends of the area. The following day we traveled around the Ring of Kerry, a famous stretch of road that winds its way along the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped at a bog village and enjoyed a demonstration of border collies herding sheep on a working farm. We also visited Bunratty Castle – where William Penn lived as an infant – as well as the famous Cliffs of Moher, and we stayed in a village known for its annual matchmaking festival called Lisdoonvarna.


One of our favorite visits was to a castle a bit off the beaten path called Birr Castle. This visit is by appointment only, as the current Earl of Rosse lives there with his family. His beautiful gardens housed what was the world’s largest telescope for one hundred years. We went to Trinity College and saw the famed Book of Kells; visited the national museum and saw bodies thousands of years old that had been preserved in the bogs with hair and nails still intact; and had an Irish culture night of food, song and dance.


We then traveled to Scotland by ferry. Our first castle there was Inveraray Castle of Downton Abbey fame. This fairy-tale castle is inhabited by the Duke of Argyll and his young family. Every room was like a museum with wonderful history, including the weapons of Rob Roy.


Next we ventured into the Scottish Highlands. Our first excursion there was a day trip to the Isle of Mull where we visited Duart Castle, the reconstructed home of Clan Campbell. We enjoyed four nights in the Loch Ness Inn Motel in the small town of Drumnadrochit, located along the infamous Loch Ness, where we took a cruise in search of Nessie. We also rode the Jacobite steam train to a fishing village called Tobemary, learning about William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in Edinburgh. It was truly a trip of a lifetime.

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Boarding the Jacobite Steam Train to Tobermary, Scotland

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Taking in the Georgian Architecture of Dublin

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The Beach at Waterville

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Ride Through Killarney National Park

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From Spanish Teacher Jessie Croft: Old Meets New During Summer Travels in Spain

Our trip through Barcelona and Madrid was a magical one. For eight days, 12 GWA high schoolers ventured outside their comfort zones and entered a world where their first language became Spanish, and they were (happily) forced to converse with street merchants and local guides.


We ate croquetas, biked cobblestone streets near the Mediterranean Sea, danced flamenco, and saw LOTS and LOTS of churches and cathedrals. We dined on tapas in a dungeon and listened to a live “tuna” band. We wandered through narrow streets of centuries-old architecture that ran right into modern edifices. We dipped churros in chocolate and snapped selfies in the Park Güell. We got brain freezes from gelato designed to look like flowers and traipsed around a palace with 2,300 rooms.


It was an incredible, life-changing trip for these 12 teenage adventurers and five chaperones. Luckily we drank from La Rambla drinking fountain, where legend states that those who drink the (lukewarm, pool-tasting) water will fall in love with the city and always return. And fall in love we did!

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A View of Barcelona

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Inside Sagrada Família

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Ceilings of Sagrada Família

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At Park Güell

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From Spanish Teacher Angie McElveen: Many 'Orchid Moments' on July's Costa Rica Trip

This July a group of 24 students and 12 adults embarked on a nine-day cultural journey to the beautiful Central American country of Costa Rica. Little did we know that this trip would change our view of how others sleep, eat and live.


We arrived at the San José airport and were greeted by guides Luigi and Daniel as well as our driver, David. All three traveled with us for the entirety of the trip, and they made the experience unique and enriching with their knowledge and passion for the country. First we drove to the Pacific coast, where we would begin the next day with a hike to a cave. The cave was surrounded by three waterfalls that provided a majestic view. After rappelling from the top of the cave and playing in the waterfalls, we settled down for the night in the open air of the cave.


After descending the mountain from the cave the next day, we drove across the countryside to our homestay village, where we met our host families. The gracious families shared meals, a soccer game, cooking lessons and a fiesta with our group. In return, our group created from scratch and by hand two lending libraries, one trash can made from recyclable materials, and various colorful signs to be placed throughout the village. We were even on national Costa Rican television for our work on these projects! The bonds made with the people in the village of Sitio de Mata will forever be some of the best times that the students remember.


For three days after our homestay, we were inhabitants of the rainforest, residing at the Pacuarre Outdoor Center on the impressive and splendid Pacuarre River. At POC, our group had the opportunity to whitewater raft up to class IV rapids, take a canopy tour, hike to a waterfall, tube in the rapids and sway on the Tarzan swing.


After rafting out of our lodge in the rainforest, our bus took us to the town of La Fortuna, near the famous Arenal Volcano. In the area of La Fortuna, we took in the sights of the town and also ziplined from 656 feet above the ground, visited and had lunch at an organic farm, and became one with nature and the blue morpho butterflies at Danaus EcoCenter. Overall, this experience had so many orchid moments that the group will never forget!

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Arriving in San José

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Hanging Out in the Rain Forest

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Group Shot on the Beach

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Making Friends with 'Ticos'

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Fall Sports Are Underway

GWA's volleyball, softball and cross country seasons have already begun... don't miss a match, game or meet! Check the athletics calendar on GWA.com or within Parents Web for schedules as well as event times and locations. You can sort calendar items by category/team.


You can also follow Athletic Director Mark Whitley on Twitter (@GeorgeWaltonAD) for up-to-the-minute scores and updates!

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Interested in Fencing?

Join us for an informational meeting on the sport of fencing! GWA would like to see if there's enough interest to start a fencing club for middle and high schoolers this year. The meeting will be held next Monday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. Both parents and students are welcome to attend.
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Equestrian Team Meets Next Week

Prospective and returning GWA equestrian team members can learn about the upcoming season plus general team information during middle and high school break on Tuesday, Aug. 15. Also, students and parents may attend an additional meeting on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the courtyard pavilion. Refreshments will be provided. Please contact Ashley Blackstone at ashblackstone@gmail.com for further details.
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Tomorrow: Spirit Wear Day

Let's show some Bulldog pride! Friday, Aug. 11, will be our first Spirit Wear Day. Students are welcome to wear GWA spirit wear items they have received as part of an athletic player pack or school activity (or apparel they have purchased from the Dawg Shop). Jeans are also okay as long as they aren't ripped or frayed. Go Bulldogs!
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August 21: Solar Eclipse Schedule Accommodations

To take full advantage of the solar eclipse on Aug. 21, GWA will start one hour later than normal and dismiss one hour later than normal across lower, middle and high school schedules. K4 students will still begin their day at 8:15 a.m. and dismiss at noon, but K4 students staying through the afternoon will join the later lower school carpool dismissal time of 3:30 p.m. Parents who still need to drop their children off at the regular morning carpool time may do so; we'll provide options for them until the 9:15 a.m. bell.
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August 24: Ice Cream Social

Mark your calendars now for GWA's Ice Cream Social! Join us in the Nicholson Center on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. for a little sugar and school pride – it's a great way to kick off the school year. Current families are asked to bring their favorite frozen desserts to share, while new families should simply come and enjoy; there's no need to bring ice cream this first time. Stick around afterwards for a fall sports pep rally at 7:30 p.m. down on Keith Henderson Field. Click HERE to sign up to bring ice cream or to volunteer at the event.
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