In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

February 4, 2016

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Focus on Student Achievements

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Blake Heard Named Star Student

GWA is proud to announce Blake Heard as the school’s 2016 STAR student. Blake has attended GWA since kindergarten and will be attending Georgia Tech in the fall. He selected Mrs. Jo Taylor, English Department Chair, as his STAR teacher. Congratulations to Blake and Mrs. Taylor.

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Four GWA Students Selected As Semi-Finalists For Governor's Honors

Four George Walton students have been selected as semi-finalists for the Governor’s Honors Program. Sarah Hansen in Visual Arts, Reese Howard in Mathematics, Peyton Hutchison in Science, and Amy Rees in Communication Arts will represent the school in the upcoming interview round of program selection. Congratulations and good luck, girls!

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Student Submissions Published in Silver Birch Press Contest

Several students recently entered the Silver Birch Press “Same Name” contest, which asked writers to select a well-known person (living or dead, real or fictional) with the same first or last name as theirs and to describe how they felt connected to or disconnected from that person in a poem or prose piece. Cullen Downey's “Downey VS. Downey", Abigail Burrows' “Abbey,” and Dustin Pennington's “Charles” submissions were all selected for publication.

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GWA Band Members Participate in JanFest

The University of Georgia January High School Band Festival (“JanFest”) is a four-day event for high school band musicians that took place from January 21 to January 24 this year. Students are nominated for participation by their director and then UGA Band's staff selects students to participate based on the order of the director’s submission, the instrumentation needs of the festival bands, and the reported musical achievements of each student. Typical festival attendance is approximately 1,000 students from 130 schools. Students are placed in festival bands on the basis of an initial audition. These bands rehearse several times before a final performance on the final afternoon of the event.

GWA Drama Presents "Almost, Maine"

January 29th marked opening night for the GWA Winter Drama Production of "Almost, Maine" by John Cariani. The cast of nine students portray twenty different residents of Almost on one Friday night around 9:00 p.m. From young love to long lost friends, from fresh starts to painful endings, the audience becomes acquainted with the people of Almost and find themselves living through the experiences of the characters.

This show concludes three months of hard work by high school students Mandy Parks, Chad Richards, Jason Dokes, Ashlynn Findley, Izzy Ott, Joseph Johnson, Wade Lee, and Sy Sutton, plus middle school student Makena Helms. The show is directed by GWA Drama teacher Ronda Grundy and produced by special arrangements with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.

Make plans to attend the final production of "Almost, Maine" on Tuesday February 9th at 7:00 p.m. in the GWA Lower Gym. Tickets are available in advance through a cast member or Mrs. Grundy, or at the door. Adult tickets are $10 and students 10 and under are $5.

Focus On GWA's Choral Department


In Case You Missed the Chorus Performance of Annie, Here's a Short Clip

The GWA Chorus performs "Tomorrow" from Annie Jr. this past weekend. Erica Webb (pictured in this video) and Sydney Senical played the role of Annie. The students involved in the production included Jenni Anderson, Kendra Bryant, Chambers Eckles, Lexi Gosman, Jack Harvey, Anna Howard, Kayley Laseter, William Maddox, Aubrey Mathewson, Lily McDaniel, Megan McGuinn, Elizabeth Meyerson, Emily Newsom, Izzy Ott, Mandy Parks, Jack Power, Morgan Robertson, Sydney Senical, Sy Sutton, Casey Trammell, Baley Vinson, Josie Walton, and Erica Webb.

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Chorus Field Trip to Spivey Hall

GWA Middle and High School Choirs visited Spivey Hall at Clayton State University on Monday, January 25th. While at Spivey Hall, the students learned about operettas and watched the Atlanta Opera performance of "The Pirates of Penzance."

Focus on Programs Supported by the Annual Loyalty Fund: Field Trips

The Annual Loyalty Fund is the most important fundraiser for GWA. Because tuition dollars do not cover the cost for educating each child, gifts to this fund allow us to close the gap. The Annual Loyalty Fund allows us to enhance the educational experience by providing field trip opportunities. This fund helps pay for buses, bus drivers, gas, and insurance; all of which are not covered in any field trip fees paid. Field trips are just one of the MANY benefits we are able to offer our students in every grade level because we have a strong support of our Annual Loyalty Fund. Our goal for 2015-2016 is $750,000. To date, we have collected $285,654 toward this goal. Your tax deductible gift to the Annual Loyalty Fund will help us reach our goal and allow all our students to continue to enjoy these extracurricular learning experiences.

Focus on Reading

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Winter Read Challenge

The upper school media center has kicked off their Winter Read Challenge, which is happening during the month of February for high school students. In an effort to encourage older kids to balance out their hectic lives with a good book every now and then, the media center created the WRC as a way for students to get together and remember how fun reading can be. Details were sent out to students last week. Check out the new GWA Upper School Media Center website to learn more about the challenge and to see all of the fabulous resources available to our students.

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AP Literature Students Visit Emory Rare Books Library

On January 28, Mrs. Taylor’s AP class visited the Manuscript Archives and Rare Books Library (MARBL) of Emory University, now known as the ROSE. Students received an overview of its contents, which included a first edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, and Dickinson’s poetry; handwritten letters from Maud Gonne to Irish poet W. B. Yeats; multiple drafts of the same poem from Nobel Prize winner, Seamus Heaney; and a thirteenth century Bible in Latin, handwritten on sheepskin. The trip, much enjoyed by students, was the culminating experience of a two-month study on poetry.

Focus on Science

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Chemistry 1 students get real-world experience in Mrs. Hammond's class working under a fume hood with strong hydrochloric acid and Bunsen burners.

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The fourth grade recently completed a unit in science on The Human Body. Students built a model lung and a blood model in order to gain a better understanding of the respiratory and circulatory systems. They also had several other "hands-on" activities to demonstrate the digestive, muscular, and skeletal systems.

Centrarse en el Español

Creativity is the buzz word in Spanish classes these days. Technology, food, music, and more are being incorporated to support Spanish programs.

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Natalia Chapar, a middle school student, plays her guitar and sings "Corre" by Jesse y Joy in Spanish class. The song was introduced to Natalia in Spanish class, and she enjoyed it so much that she learned the chords and sang it for the class!

Focus on Tennis

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GWA tennis players had a total of 10 victories in a tournament on January 9 and 10. Freshman Isabella Hurley played her first ever 18’s tournament and won the championship. Sixth grader Reagan Peppers won her division taking out the #1 seed. Camille Malcom, also a sixth grader, went undefeated taking out the #2 seed in her last match. Fifth grader, Ashley Bentz played in a 14’s tournament and won. Freshman Eliza Malcom won her 16’s match. Ivy Turner, freshman, also had great, competitive matches. This was the first tournament for Camille, Eliza, and Ivy.

The GWA tennis team is preparing for a great season. The first Varsity match will be at Monroe Area on February 11. The Middle School team will travel with the Varsity to Tallulah Falls on February 16 for their first match.

Kindergarten Focuses on the 100th Day of School

Last week K4 & K5 students celebrated 100 days of learning by dressing up like centenarians. The kindergarten building was filled with canes, walkers, glasses, and gray hair, along with lots of fun and excitement. Even some of the teachers joined in the fun!

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Focus on Faculty - Mrs. Sherre Cown (aka Ms. Sherre)

In an effort to help our families better know our wonderful staff at GWA, the Communications Team will begin featuring a staff member in each newsletter. It was hard to find a starting place for our first feature because we have many great teachers and support staff. We decided to do our first article on the person who has been employed at GWA the longest: Mrs. Sherre Cown.

Ms. Sherre has been a member of the GWA staff teaching K4 for 30 years. While employed at GWA, she has not only been a K4 teacher but has also served as Vice President of the GWA Booster Club, Varsity Cheerleading Coach, and JV & B Team Cheerleading Coach.

Her involvement at GWA goes much deeper than teaching. Her three children graduated from GWA: Kenny in 1997, Amy in 1999, and Ashley in 2001. She currently has one grandson, Collin, in first grade and another grandson, Chase, starting in August.

When asked to share her fondest memory, she replied that she had too many to count, but she finally settled on the honor of having one of the yearbooks dedicated to her by the yearbook staff.

When she is not at GWA, Ms. Sherre loves spending time with her family and traveling. She also loves to cook and read. Ms. Sherre’s vibrant personality is summed up in her own words, “I love life and I don't want to waste a second of it! Like I tell my children and my GWA children, we have to do our best today because tomorrow will soon be here! I love George Walton. The children and families that have passed through these doors are forever in my heart.”

GWA appreciates Mrs. Sherre Cown’s contributions to our kindergarten program and school over the past 30 years.

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Inclement Weather Reminder

In the event of school closure due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances that might prevent students' physical presence on campus, George Walton Academy may require students in grades K5 - 12 to access and complete electronic classroom lessons. Assignments will be posted on the school's RenWeb portal in order to make up missed instruction and in lieu of traditional makeup days. Students and parents will be reminded of GWA's electronic makeup procedures when a school closure is first announced. Assignments will be posted by 10 a.m. each day school is closed.

Please see the link below for the complete policy and Frequently Asked Questions information. The policy may also be found in the resource document section of ParentsWeb.

Inclement Weather Policy

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Important Dates at a Glance

February 12-15: School Holiday-Winter Break
Full Calendar of Events

Click here to see all scheduled events and activities happening at GWA.