In Focus @ GWA

A news bulletin for the families of George Walton Academy

March 8, 2018

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The Benefits of a Seven-Period Schedule

By Jeff Lalaian, Math Instructor


Last year, I was asked to lead a teachers’ committee tasked with developing a schedule that could accommodate a growing and evolving GWA. We soon realized that what constitutes the perfect schedule may look different for each constituency, so we began by asking, “What can we do that will best enhance the student experience?”


With that in mind, we endeavored to create a schedule that maximizes instructional time, allows for study hall and advisory, and provides opportunities for collaboration, labs, projects, or rehearsals. We began by meeting with coworkers, students and families to gain a greater understanding of their specific needs and wishes. Our lower school teachers wanted more time for reading, art, foreign languages, and assemblies. Middle and Upper School needed time each week for advisory, recurring enrichment opportunities, study halls, and assemblies/pep rallies/guest speakers. We wanted to give upper school students more autonomy, so they could begin to learn how to manage discretionary time more effectively. Most importantly, students wanted a more flexible schedule so they could take the classes they need/desire, while also having a study hall. With the new seven-period schedule, we feel this has been achieved. We invite you to check out the 2018-2019 schedules below:


Middle School Schedule

Upper School Schedule

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The Brightest STAR

George Walton is pleased to announce Danielle Murphy as the school’s STAR student. She achieved an even greater honor when she was named Walton County’s STAR student at the STAR Student and Teacher banquet hosted for the 60th year by the Walton County Chamber of Commerce. To obtain the STAR recognition, Danielle achieved the highest score on the SAT and is in the top ten percent of her class based on grade point average. She selected Ms. Carolyn Thigpen, her AP Calculus teacher, as her STAR teacher. In choosing Ms. Thigpen, Danielle expressed, “I have so much respect and admiration for her. She always holds my peers and me in such a high regard and expects nothing but brilliance from us.”


Ms. Thigpen stated, “Danielle is one I call a quiet fighter, a young person with drive and determination and a willingness to push herself to achieve a goal when she believes it is something worth pursuing. I have had the privilege of teaching her mathematics for three years and thoroughly enjoy the energy she brings to each class. Her personal integrity and drive, her attentiveness and eager participation in classroom discussion, her steady and focused spirit, have all caused her to be a STAR student long before her SAT scores qualified her for such an honor.” In the fall, Danielle will attend the University of Florida where she has been selected for the Honors College. She plans to major in biochemistry on the pre-med track.

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Lessons Learned Along The Way

It's an exciting week as students experience history, art, culture and much more on the road. High school students are exploring Virginia and New York during Trip Week. Eighth graders are in historic Savannah where they visited the Roundhouse Railroad Museum, SCAD, Tybee Island and even had the chance to take a ghost tour. Seventh graders are exploring our nation’s capital- visiting the Lincoln Memorial, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Newseum, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the White House, U.S. Capitol and more. We invite you to learn about the sixth-graders visit to the Challenger Learning Center in the article below, and we look forward to sharing more details on these engaging learning journeys soon.
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Mission: Accomplished

The GWA sixth-grade class experienced a unique opportunity to complete the Voyage to Mars mission in the Challenger Learning Center at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center in Columbus. The hands-on learning activity included an interdisciplinary mission that reinforced teamwork and listening skills.


They first viewed an introductory video inside of a space shuttle-themed theater. They were then divided into groups that went to mission control or the space vehicle; teachers decided which roles students would play to simulate the actual mission. It was an exciting way to learn, and the students walked away with a sense of accomplishment. In addition to the space mission, the sixth grade went to the Civil War Naval Museum, the National Infantry Museum and the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center.

A Shoe Drive to Save the Planet


AP Environmental Science students Grace Short and Kendall Garrett are currently collecting old athletic footwear to be recycled as a part of their service project for the course. Read below as Grace explains the importance of their project and how you can help.


"Athylene Vinyl Acetate, a material commonly found in the midsole of athletic shoes, can last as long as 1,000 years in a landfill," Grace explained. "Kendall and I took in this staggering fact when deciding what our AP Environmental Science service project would be. We are collecting athletic shoes of any condition (but please no flip flops) to send to Nike's Reuse-A-Shoe program. The Nike program takes athletic shoes and repurposes them into athletic surfaces such as tracks, indoor basketball courts, playgrounds, etc. Shoes may be placed in the collection box found in the front office or given to Kendall or me. Any and all donations are greatly appreciated! We hope to have all shoes collected by April 13."


If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Grace at vgshort-19@gwa.com or Kendall at kcgarrett-19@gwa.com.

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Youth Cheer Registration Dates

If your daughter is a rising kindergarten through sixth-grade student, she is welcome to register for GWA Youth cheer! Registration is March 26-27 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Nicholson Center concession area. If you have any questions, please contact Christie Briscoe at (770) 652-8904 or at gwacheerpups@gmail.com.

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Varsity Baseball Scores Big Win

Congratulations to the varsity baseball team for a big win last Saturday against Fellowship Christian. The game was tied 1-1 at the bottom of the ninth inning when Gabe McCullers hit a double which allowed Grant McDonel to score the winning run. The final score was 2-1.

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The Importance of Middle School Sports

By Grace Martin, Assistant to the Athletic Director


Middle school is a time when students quickly learn how to transition from one season of life to the next. Participating in sports can make the transitions easier and create peace of mind for adolescents. There are a variety of reasons why it is important for middle school students to be involved in some sort of sport or club, but here are our top three:


#1- The friendships that adolescents make while playing middle school sports help in the transition from elementary school to middle school and from middle school to high school. These students develop a sense of belonging, something that this season of life is sure to require.


#2- Students develop an awareness of others and an understanding that teamwork is a vital part of success. The sooner they learn this, the better.


#3- There are a variety of health benefits. For example, when adolescents participate in sports, their muscles can keep up with their growing bodies.

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Down on the Farm

K4 and K5 students delivered a crowd-pleasing rendition of “Down on the Farm” to family and friends. These are the cutest barnyard animals and farmers we've ever seen!
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bja8Kmjz1T4

GWA Alumnus Makes Big Impact on Community

GWA alumnus Ilya Kim (’14) is currently earning his Bachelors of Arts with Honors in human biology at Stanford University. At Stanford, Kim works with Cardinal Courses. Through Cardinal, Kim and his peers engage in classes that allow them to connect with non-governmental organizations that focus on health disparities in the community. They work with the organizations to fulfill their needs through research, program evaluations and more. He has been working with several organizations advocating for the health access of migrant communities. If you would like to see more about his work in this area, please watch the video above.


Kim said that at GWA he was able to receive a grounded perspective on the subjects that he has continued to study during his time at Stanford. Kim explained, “I am thankful to GWA for all of the support from the faculty and administration that I received as a student, which allowed me to pursue higher education at Stanford.” After completing his undergraduate degree, Kim plans to work locally for a year and then pursue a career path in medicine.

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College Road Trip!

GWA students are touring colleges and universities this week, including Emory, Auburn, Georgia College, the University of West Georgia, and Kennesaw State University. The College Counseling team has also arranged for students to attend a College Fair this week. Learn more about their itinerary.

March 24 - Atlanta College Application Mini-Camp

Workshops on preparing for college presented by several university reps on the Georgia State campus. Recommended for ninth-eleventh grade students and families. Register.


March 25 - NACAC University Fair

Close to 200 colleges will be in attendance at the National Association of College Admissions Counseling University Fair. Learn more and register.


March 26 - GWA College Fair

More information to come.

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