In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

May 17, 2018

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GWA Generations

For three of our GWA families, this weekend’s graduation will be a full circle celebration. No greater compliment can be paid to a school than when their alumni choose to send their own children to their alma mater. We are grateful to those who trust us with their children’s education and we look forward to cheering alongside them and all our families on Saturday as we celebrate the Class of 2018!
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It's been 34 years since I graduated from George Walton. GWA has grown significantly over those years but the main purpose of the school has remained the same. The emphasis has always been on the student. At GWA, I knew my teachers and they, in turn, knew me. Our daughter, Kyle, attended GWA from K4 and graduated in 2008. Due to Kyle’s college prep education, college was a natural extension of her education and she thrived in the college environment. She has moved on to a rewarding career.


It was always our intention that our children would both attend GWA as we felt that the level of education far surpassed the alternatives. When it came time for Ryan to attend GWA, enrollment had surpassed capacity and we were unable to secure him a spot at GWA so we moved our family to Oconee County for Ryan to attend one of the best public-school systems in the state of Georgia. Although Oconee provided him the basis of an education, it was never the level we had experienced at GWA. Class sizes were large and he rarely received individualized attention that GWA had offered to me or our daughter. We always knew we wanted Ryan at GWA and fortunately, we moved out of the Oconee school district following Ryan’s sophomore year and enrolled him at GWA for his Junior year. He wasn’t happy as we left friends and the only school he had ever known. After a month at GWA, Ryan confessed to us that he wished he had been at GWA for his entire education as he was thriving in his classes and was enjoying meeting new friends and loving the attention he received from his teachers. Ryan graduates this weekend as an honor student and is looking forward to college in the fall. Our family is thankful for all that GWA has given us and feel blessed to be a part of the GWA family for so many years.


- Jill Few Moore, Class of 1984

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Poetic Presentations

As the fifth-grade students closed their unit on poetry, they had a chance to show what they've learned. Students chose a poem of 10 lines or more to memorize and read in front of their class. Each student was graded on performance and enthusiasm during their presentation. They were able to wear costumes that complimented their poems and to bring props if they preferred. Students shouted for their peers as they took the stage. Job well done, fifth grade!
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A Dino-Mite Lesson

Dinosaur week is always a student favorite! They learn about different types of dinosaurs, what they ate and how they lived. To add to the excitement, Ms. Cecille creates a dinosaur egg for the children to “excavate” just as paleontologists would do when they look for fossils. While extremely realistic, the "eggs" are made of salt, flour, sand, old coffee grinds, and water. Students received tools to crack their eggs and find out what was waiting inside. Surprisingly, they all produce baby dinosaurs for our K4 students to keep and raise!

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Dash Dance Off

Fifth-grade students are wrapping up the year with a technology project that has them very excited. For the past two weeks, they have been working in groups to program synchronized dance programs for two Dash robots to perform in the “Dash Dance Off” contest. Writing code and testing their code for optimal effects then pairing that with an entertaining song have been the challenges they have faced in Mrs. Gudnason’s classes. The students also videoed their routines, then edited the video footage in iMovie to create a performance that is sure to wow audiences. "Each group did a remarkable job with their projects," said Ms. Gudnason, "so we thought we would add a fun, competitive twist to the activity."


In the spirit of the TV show “Dancing with the Stars”, students will rely on audience votes to determine which routine will win in each round. Please click HERE to watch the videos. Then, click on the voting link on that website to cast your vote for the videos you found most intriguing and entertaining. The voting link will be open Thursday, 5/17 through Sunday, 5/20. The teams were randomly chosen for each round and the winner of each round will receive a “memorable and priceless” prize. You can check the GWA social media pages on Monday, 5/21 to learn who won each round and see the coveted prizes they receive.

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A Letter To Treasure

This week Haley Russell received a letter from author Chang-rae Lee thanking her for her response to Native Speaker, his 1995 novel about the son of Korean immigrants assimilating into the culture and language of America, working to establish his identity. As part of an AP Literature assignment earlier this year, Haley had written Lee addressing some of the themes of his novel and sharing some of her grandmother’s experiences as an immigrant after WWII. He responded that there would always be ‘natives’ with us who “will see certain newcomers as malign, lesser, and a threat to their perceived way of life,” but that “good folks are always striving, working, thinking about better things, and that the sum of all those labors might be some enriched understanding about who we are and who we should be.”


In a conversation with Mrs. Taylor, Haley expressed the importance of Lee’s letter. “I am thrilled that he took the time to share with me. His writing has impacted me in so many ways, one being that I am now considering a career in international affairs.” Mrs. Taylor reminded her of their class visit to Emory’s display of rare books and manuscripts last fall to see documents such as the one she received from Lee. Haley responded, “I understand the value of Chang-rae Lee’s gift. I will treasure this letter for a lifetime.”

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Welcoming New Dawgs!

Dawg360 has been hard at work welcoming our new students to the GWA family. Our #brandnewbulldogs received a surprise in the mail from Mrs. Cari Bailey, Director of Admissions, to let them know just how excited we are that they will join us on campus next year.


Our ambassador family initiative is in full force as well! This program assigns our new families with an existing family to accompany them through their first year. Ambassador families teach newcomers about GWA's traditions and culture, while making them feel welcome during the new school year.

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All In All, You'll Want To Have A Brick In Our Wall

It isn’t too late to purchase a brick for the I.M.P.A.C.T. Campaign. Engraved bricks will be incorporated into the wall design in the cafeteria during our summer remodel. Purchase a brick to honor a student, a teacher, a graduate or advertise a business. Final cutoff to purchase a brick is May 22. Click HERE to purchase your brick today! Questions? Contact Jeanie Beach at jbeach@gwa.com or 678-635-3812.

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Board Member Named Trustee Emeritus

Congratulations to Mr. Arthur Bowick. He is the longest standing board member and served GWA from 1981 to 2017. Bowick was the first person to be named "Trustee Emeritus," making him a lifetime member of the Board of Trustees. Thank you for your dedication to GWA!

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New School Photographer!

You spoke and we listened! Elena de la Rosa is our new school photographer. She is local, she is talented and she is ready to take some gorgeous photos of our kids! We are so excited to be able to offer such quality photography to our families! Check out her incredible work HERE!

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Athletes Honored By Vince Dooley

Seniors Baylee Bowers and Grant McDonel each received the Vincent J. Dooley Award! This award goes to senior athletes that exhibit distinguished individual character, outstanding teamwork, and citizenship. Bowers and McDonel were presented with their awards last Saturday at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. These student athletes are exceptional role models for their peers, always lead by example and set the bar for excellent and honorable conduct. GWA couldn’t be more proud!

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You Don't Want To Miss This!

The Red & White football game will take place on May 18 at 6 p.m. This game is our annual intra-squad spring game. Coach Whitley will be making a HUGE announcement at the end of the game around 7:30 p.m.
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Interested In Equestrian?

Is your son or daughter interested in joining the GWA Equestrian Team? Let us know! The team is open to boys and girls in grades 6th-12th - no prior experience or horse ownership is required. Students will begin preparing for competition over the summer - it's a great time to take a test ride and see if your son or daughter enjoys it! The team coach also offers camps throughout the summer; these are available by the day or week and offer a great way to start riding. For information on the team, lessons or camps over the summer, please email team mom Tara Geoffroy at tara.geoffroy@gmail.com.

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Fifth Grade C.H.A.M.P.S

GWA fifth graders graduated from the C.H.A.M.P.S program! This program is held by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and the acronym stands for Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety. Our students were fortunate to have the guidance of Corporal Chris Labowicz throughout the program as they completed classroom lessons and discussions, as well as essays on topics that included bullying, alcohol, tobacco, and peer pressure. Essay winners were recognized for first, second and third place and one student from each class was chosen for his/her outstanding effort in the C.H.A.M.P.S. program.


All of the students leave graduation well-equipped to make smart choices. Congratulations to all of the winners and fifth-grade graduates! Thank you to Corporal Labowicz, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and sponsors Loganville American Legion Post 233, Chairman Little, and Commissioner Bradford.

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Showered With Love

With pure love and dedication, teachers selflessly show every day that they are simply cape-less heroes. Especially during Teacher Appreciation Week, we celebrate and thank our teachers for the vital role they play in supporting students and strengthening their future.


Faculty and staff were showered with a breakfast buffet, lunch from student council, mailbox treats and a day full of prizes! We appreciate the families who donated goodies and their time to make this week a success. Also, a big thank you to Elizabeth McDonel, who orchestrated the event. Her commitment to make this occasion special for those who have one of the most challenging jobs did not go unnoticed.

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New Middle School Student Council

After a week of campaigning and making their case from the podium to their fellow classmates, the ballots were cast and the middle school student council was elected. Congratulations to the new officers:


Executive President: Jaden Wood

Executive Vice President: Graham Hill

Executive Treasurer: Reese Behnke


Eighth-grade President: Katalina Flores

Eighth-grade Vice President: Mia Smith

Eighth-grade Secretary: Morgan Green

Eighth-grade Treasurer: Ren Grimsley

Eighth-grade Representative: Sara Bryan


Seventh-grade President: Kendall Inman

Seventh-grade Vice President: Catherine Atkinson

Seventh-grade Secretary: Sarah Digby

Seventh-grade Treasurer: Rylee Vining

Seventh-grade Representative: Payton Stone

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It Never Leaves You

The GWA yearbook staff was elated to finally show off their hard work as 2018 yearbooks were presented to the student body yesterday. The staff includes Ivy Turner (editor-in-chief), Eliza Malcom (editor), Chloe McGraw (editor), Tayia Mast (editor), Catherine Lazenby (editor), Maddie Brucker, Morgan Butler, Mary Grace Cowan, Josie Evans, Lauren Holley, Jenna Lo, Austin Silverberg, Abby Stone, and Caroline Vansant. Advisor Liz Jones said, “I’m so proud of the book. This staff really created a beautiful capsule of the year.” We hope that the 2018 Résumé will continue the GWA tradition of our award-winning yearbook program that was started by Brian Cole, the advisor for 19 excellent yearbooks.


The presentation included a heartwarming dedication to the beloved “Ms. Melanie” and continued with a video slideshow of amazing photos taken throughout the year. The program concluded as editor-in-chief Ivy Turner presented Dr. Dolan with his copy of the book. Students enjoyed signing yearbooks for the remainder of the afternoon.

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Chorus Is Their Forte

Congratulations to our sixth through 12th-grade choirs that competed at Music in the Parks. They performed at Douglas County High School on Friday where all three groups came home with First Place Excellent! On Saturday, the performers had a day of celebration at Six Flags in conjunction with the competition.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNkeDVKYuJo
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Dancing Around

Lower school general music classes do not just practice their vocals, they also practice their dancing. Mrs. Dyer has been teaching folk songs and dances for many years for the value they bring to musical education. "I use folk dances in class to teach history, social skills, keeping the beat, listening skills, and many other musical concepts, depending on the dance. I often remind my students that I want them to feel comfortable dancing at parties, weddings, and other special events," said Mrs. Dyer.


In celebration of the first day of May, Mrs. Sherre's K4 class danced around the Maypole. Also included in the videos above is Mrs. Franklin's third-grade class showing the CIrcle Waltz Mixer.

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Band Recital

Join our band program for their student recital on Monday, May 21. The recital will begin at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium.
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An Eye for Design

Brandon Coe’s (’11) passion for art and design began with a coloring book. He didn’t just paint the pages with vibrant hues. Instead, he analyzed the graphic art and thought about how he too could create his own illustrations. Coe is now the Graphic Specialist for Georgia United Credit Union (GUCU). He spends much of his time designing campaigns, commercials and motion graphics for the company.


His dream is to have a creative voice across a large corporation. With GUCU, his recent project is co-branding their new partnerships between Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia. Brandon said, “We are the new official credit union for both schools and I was able to do the creative design for the ads, print materials and online content for this new launch that included both our colors and designs together in one space.”


Brandon isn’t the only artist in his family. Younger brother, Roger Coe, will graduate this weekend and leaves behind quite the legacy for himself. Roger received rave reviews after the AP Art show, with many faculty members asking to purchase his pieces. He had one special piece with a familiar subject- his brother, Brandon.

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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 p.m. The address is 210 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303. To pre-register, please visit https://ctcl.org/atlanta-ga-may-22-2018/.


May 23 - Informative Session

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

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