In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

July 20, 2018

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New Look. New Year. New School!

As you return to campus, you’ll notice the physical, external improvements we’ve been working on all summer, but the renovations go far beyond.

We have looked at every aspect of the school from academic, extracurricular and co-curricular programs, to financial responsibility, stewardship, communication and how we engage our community. The most tangible changes are in our physical campus, but these are only the tip of the iceberg. We are excited to begin this school year as a renewed and revitalized GWA.

Some might wonder, “Why all the change? We’re already a great school!”

While GWA has certainly always had our strengths, and we want to continue to celebrate our proud history, we must also recognize that there are few environments as dynamic as education should and must be! Those who fail to evaluate, improve, and innovate run the risk of quickly falling behind. We should never set our sights on simply keeping up, GWA should be and must be a leader in independent school education. And to do that, It’s time we go above and beyond.

Above what’s expected. Above the ordinary. Above the customary.

Beyond the complacency of resting on our laurels. Beyond the traditional. Beyond “what’s always been done.”

As we approach our 50th anniversary, we’ll celebrate our rich history, but will also look ahead to what’s next. In fact, think of this revitalization as GWA Next. We’ve introduced engaging new programs and are utilizing technology to prepare students for real-world application of knowledge. We are incorporating the latest teaching techniques, reaching students in new ways, and being nimble, flexible, and adaptable. We’ve built a team of educators who are enthusiastic collaborators and willing to be students themselves. Our teachers are committed to learning and growing every day. As always, our efforts are focused on one common goal: to provide the very best experience for our students, enabling them to discover their potential and not only reach it, but go far beyond what they imagined they could achieve.

GWA Next is more than new bricks, mortar and a fresh coat of paint. It’s a reawakened and reenergized approach to education. And we’ll hit the ground running in just a few short weeks.

Throughout this special edition of In Focus, you’ll find helpful “Back to School” information including upcoming events, summer reading and supply lists, Dawgs 360 details, and more. We are committed to effective and meaningful communication and In Focus is one of our primary tools for helping you stay informed and updated. Additionally, this year, we are debuting grade level Parent Socials designed to not only inform you, but to also provide opportunities for you to get to know other GWA parents. We have also produced a full-color, printed school calendar that will be given to each family at Open House and we encourage you to take note of the many opportunities to plug into GWA life by joining us at athletic, arts, and community events. We will continue our Coffee with the Admin series of meetings, and invite you to join us at these informative and interactive sessions. We are also producing an online faculty directory with profile information about each of our talented teachers that will debut on our website later this fall.

Thank you for partnering with us in your child’s education. And thank you to everyone who has rolled up their sleeves or reached into their pockets to help us refresh our classrooms, hallways and many of our common spaces. These renovations and all of our other efforts are designed to provide the best GWA experience for our students, faculty, and families. It’s been a busy summer and we look forward to an exciting school year!

See you soon,


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School Hours and Scheduling

We look forward to seeing our students back on campus! Upper and middle school students (sixth - 12th grade only) will have have a half day on Wednesday, Aug. 8. Lower school students (K4 - fifth grade only) will have have a half day on Thursday, Aug. 9. School will dismiss both 8/8 and 8/9 at 12 p.m. and the buses will run at 12:10 p.m. There will be no lunch or aftercare. All students will have their first day of school (no early dismissal) on Friday, Aug. 10.

Please remember the new school hours:

Carpool starts at 7:30 a.m.

Classes begin at 8 a.m.

K4 dismisses at noon

K5-5th grade carpool begins at 2:45 p.m.

6th-12th grade will dismiss at 3:15 p.m. to accommodate our new seven period school day.

Please click HERE to view the middle school block schedule.

Please click HERE to view the upper school block schedule.

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Summer Assignments and School Supplies

As summer is coming to a close, please remember your child's summer assignments. Please click HERE to see required reading assignments and classroom supply lists. Your class blogs serve as another helpful resource. Pertinent information has been uploaded. If you have any questions, please email Cari Bailey at
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Winter Term Internship Survey

Attention parents and students of the rising junior and senior classes:

An informational email with a link to an interest survey was sent to all juniors, seniors, and their parents on July 12 regarding internship opportunities during the upcoming Winter Term. All rising juniors and seniors should complete the internship interest survey by Thursday, July 26. Please be sure to check your email and contact Jennifer Houck ( if you have any questions.

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Wow - just check out these exciting class and camp offerings for after-school this fall: Minecraft, Tennis, Dance, Guitar, eSports, Musical Theater, Ready, Set, Sew, Stop Motion, and more! Click here for complete details. Many camps have limited spots. Sign up early to ensure your child gets the camp or class he or she desires!

Contact Stacy May at or 678-635-3852 for information on how to sign up for one of these fabulous opportunities! You may also sign up at Bulldog Bonanza (see below.)

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Mandatory Meeting for Parents of MS and US Athletes

Parents of middle and upper school athletes, please join the athletic department on Thursday, Aug. 9 for an all-sports informational meeting. The session will begin promptly at 6 p.m. in the Nicholson Center.

An introduction will be given by our Athletic Director, Mark Whitley, followed by three break-out sessions comprised of weightlifting and nutrition information presented by Coach Shane Davis, concession and gate details with Grace Martin and Elizabeth McDonel, and safety information from our athletic trainer, Seth Fleming.

Please direct questions to Grace Martin at

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Open House Information

Upper school and middle school schedules will be uploaded to ParentsWeb in the upcoming days. A hard copy will be available at Open House. Once on campus, you and your student will visit each class for 10 minutes with a five-minute break in-between.

The morning session of lower school open house will be broken into two 45-minute increments so that those families with multiple children can visit two classrooms. We will begin at 9 a.m. and those with two lower school children may stay for the second morning session at 9:45 a.m. There will only be one session in the evening at 6 p.m.

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Bulldog Bonanza

You don't want to miss our upcoming Bulldog Bonanza! This event is a great opportunity to get an early start on the school year and beat the Open House rush. It also coincides with Fall Sports Picture Day on July 27.

The Dawg Shop will offer uniform items, new spirit wear and sale merchandise both days from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Also, any necessary workbooks and online subscriptions will be available for purchase.

Dawgs 360 will hold a gently used uniform sale and offer Dawgs 360 memberships for the new school year both days from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the cafeteria. If you would like to donate uniforms (current logos only), please contact Elizabeth McDonel at

And you may also sign up for Beyond the Bell after-school classes and camps.

Join us and our GWA Bulldog mascot for a bonanza of fun and savings!

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New for 2018-2019! Our beautiful school calendar is hot off the presses and you can pick yours up at the Bulldog Bonanza too!

Each family will receive one for free and additional copies are available for $5 each. The calendars feature many of the school's events and activities (as many as we could identify by the print deadline date!) as well as contact phone numbers and emails for administrators and staff. We hope you will enjoy this handy resource brought to you by GWA's Office of Advancement. Stop by the cafeteria and pick up your wall calendar and get a jump start on being in the know for all the GWA happenings in the coming year!

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DAWGS 360 is Back and Better than Ever!

After a successful inaugural year, DAWGS 360 is now a vibrant and vital part of the GWA Experience! Just check out the features and benefits of this fantastic GWA organization.

What is Dawgs 360?

Dawgs 360 was created to engage our entire community across all facets of student life at every grade level. The organization has a three-fold mission: build community, ensure every student’s interests are equally valued and supported, and find meaningful ways to involve parents in the life and mission of the school.

And as for benefits? Your $100 membership provides the following for your immediate family members who live in your household:

  • admission to all concerts, plays, and performances
  • admission to all home athletic competitions (The only exception will be playoff games, as GHSA requires that everyone pays for admission - and they take a percentage of the gate receipts.)
  • Field trips – for both the student and the member chaperone (overnight and Winter Term field trips will require an additional fee)
  • Class parties
  • A 10% discount on all regular-priced apparel in the Dawg Shop

Additionally, Dawgs 360 is simply your best vehicle to get involved at GWA. It is the clearinghouse for all volunteer opportunities on campus. It’s a 360-degree turn, a full circle of influence that promotes and celebrates Bulldog school pride. In other words, come as you are! We’re happy to help you find the right fit regarding individual interests.

Click here to download the Dawgs 360 application.

Once the completed form is returned, you’ll receive an email link to the Dawgs 360 mobile phone app with directions for completing the process. With this app, your smartphone becomes a visual passport of membership for you and your family.

Get involved with the event of your choice, meet face-to-face with other parents, interact with students and collaborate with GWA faculty. There’s no limit to what we can accomplish when we work together.

We look forward to making 2018-2019 a great year and thank you in advance for your support!

Please feel free to email Elizabeth McDonel at if you’re interested in volunteering as part of Dawgs 360 or if you have any questions.

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Early yearbook orders and other photo news!

Click here to order your yearbook (senior yearbooks are included with senior dues). You may also utilize this link to submit photos for possible use in the yearbook. We’d love to see pictures of your summer adventures!

Senior parents may go to the same link to design and purchase a senior tribute ad (it is $50 more if you would like a staff designed page).

Fall sports pictures are on July 27. Contact your coach or Grace Martin ( for schedules and more information.

Other important photography dates for August are:

August 8 & 9: Faculty photos – 8:00 – 12:00

August 14 & 15: Senior makeup pictures at school (by appointment only)

August 29: K4 – sixth grade yearbook photos

August 30th: seventh – 11th grade yearbook photos

Also, Liz Jones still has some K5 cap and gown photo orders from the spring in her office (in the front office). If you haven’t received your photo order, please stop by and pick them up.

Contact Liz Jones at or 678-635-3813 with any questions or concerns about the yearbook.

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Campus Clean Up Day: August 4

Show your school pride and join your fellow Bulldogs for a few hours of GWA community service by participating in our annual campus cleanup day. Bring your rakes, tool belts, work gloves and trash bags to help us spruce up the campus for back-to-school activities. We’ll start working around 7:30 a.m. and wrap up before lunch. Snacks and water will be provided.

Parents, students, faculty and staff are all invited. This day of campus beautification is a great way to get involved and give back. Please email Elizabeth McDonel at to RSVP so we know how many to expect. Hope to see you there!