Coyotes Captivated by Gettysburg History

After watching the really, really, really long “Gettysburg” movie at school Tuesday evening, the juniors were back at GWCS at 6:00 am Wednesday morning for the annual junior class field trip to the Gettysburg National Military Park.  After arriving at Gettysburg, we visited the National Military Cemetery where the remains of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers, most unknown, are interred.  The dedication of this cemetery was the location of President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal “Gettysburg Address”.  Cemetery Hill was also a central location of the Union lines, and the area is full of cannons and memorials dedicated to those who fought there. 

Our next stop was to the Visitor Center, where we watched a moving film called “A New Birth of Freedom”, viewed the amazing Gettysburg Cyclorama, and toured through the museum.  (Not enough time – need to return!)  We then piled back into the school van and Mr. Wallace’s car to tour the battlefield directed by an audio tour guide.  With an open call between Mr. Goldie’s and Mr. Wallace’s phones, Mr. Lindner holding Mr. Goldie’s phone against the car speaker, and Mr. Wallace’s phone plugged into his car’s audio system, we all listened to descriptions of the battle as we drove around the battlefield.  We stopped at get out at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, the State of Virginia Monument, and Little Round Top

From the Virginia Memorial, we repeated the annual GWCS Pickett’s Charge, walking the mile from where General Lee observed mounted on his horse to the Bloody Angle on Cemetery Hill where the Confederacy reached its “High Water Mark”.  And back!   

Following the car tour, we retired to General Li’s Buffet for a yummy, filling and fun meal before driving back to GWCS.  We had fun, learned a lot, and returned with a greater respect for the courage and commitment of those who fought there.

GW Community School
Junior Gettysburg Trip
Mr. Goldie, History Teacher
November 14, 2018


Rover Ruckus Robotics

GWCS Coyote Robotics Teams Gear-Up for the first competition of the 2018-2019 season

GWCS, in conjunction with Coyote Robotics, Inc., sponsors two FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams.  This season we have three GWCS students and eight kids from neighboring schools participating on our two teams: FTC 965 “League of Incompetent Gentlemen” and FTC 3749 “Bionic Penguins.” GWCS robotics participants (both students and parents) met September 8 to learn about Rover Ruckus ™, the new robotics game challenge for the forthcoming competition season.  Immediately following the meeting, participants began brainstorming how to design robots that will compete successfully in the challenge game.

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For the past two months our teams have met at least three times a week to strategize, design, build and test our two robots.  Many possible designs were considered, prototyped and tested before reaching our current state with Team 965’s robot just about ready and Team 3749’s not far behind.  We under a lot of pressure since the first of three qualifying tournaments takes place November 17 at Orange County High School in Orange, Virginia.  We’ll report on our showing following the tournament.  Go Coyotes!  Go Gentlemen!  Go Penguins!

GW Community School
Rover Ruckus Robotics
Gary Lindner, Math Teacher, Robotics Coach
September 8, 2018


Ending Stigma Through Art

A New Club at GWCS

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The GWCS ESTA (Ending Stigma Through Art) Club, newly founded this year, recently completed its first unit on poverty. After introducing the idea of stigma generally, and the negative impacts it has on vulnerable populations and society overall, we educated ourselves about poverty by engaging in discussions, taking quizzes, and learning about related statistics. After discussing and developing an understanding of stigma and poverty, we then spent a number of meetings focused on art that helped to break down or remove stigma about people who are challenged by poverty. We focused on a variety of different kinds of art, including: poetry (by Langston Hughes, Robert Flanagan and Julie Dinsmore), paintings (by Marc Clamage), editorial cartoons (by Jimmy Margulies, Barry Deutsch, and Angelo Lopez), and a TED talk (by Rutger Bregman).

The poverty unit culminated in our group going to the “Evicted” exhibit at the National Building Museum. This exhibit powerfully portrayed the prevalence of the practice of eviction across America, a practice whereby people are removed from their home by court order against their will. This exhibit, through info-graphics, cardboard installations, photographs, and audio interviews, also demonstrated the many hardships that poor people endure due to unstable housing, including hardships related to family life, mental and physical health, jobs, school, and personal relationships.

Additionally, the exhibit emphasized that eviction can happen to anyone from any background. However, the exhibit also noted, based on years of collected data, that eviction disproportionately affects African American single mothers in cities. Finally, this art exhibit left us with a feeling that eviction, and its related hardships, is a problem that can be solved, and that each of us can play a part in the solution. 

GW Community School
Ending Stigma Through Art
Lizzie W.
ESTA Club Student Coordinator
November 3, 2018


A Spooktacular Celebration

GWCS COYOTES HAVE A HOWLING GOOD TIME ON HALLOWEEN

In classic GWCS fashion, this year’s Halloween celebration was a blast! The school was replete with t-t-t-terrifying decorations and hauntingly delicious snacks, including make-your-own candied apples. Students came to campus dressed in a variety of outstanding costumes. Following lunch, the whole school participated in “68 Minutes of Fun,” a staple of the annual GWCS celebration of All Hallows’ Eve that this year included an eyeball hunt, a donut-eating contest, and a fashion show/costume contest. Elizabeth the Elf took home the award for Best Overall Costume, Luke and Emma Grace snagged the Best Group Costume award in their Care Bear onesies, Anne won Best Pun for her “Post Mallonee” costume, and Olivia’s Asylum Escapee character won her Scariest Costume. The next morning found a school clear of cobwebs and ghouls, but some students say that in quiet moments around the building, if you listen close, you can still hear people having a howling good time!

Dangling Donuts Eating Contest

  Dangling Donuts Winner on the Right

Dangling Donuts Winner on the Right

Costume Contest Winners

Eyeball Scavenger Hunt Winners

To view even more spooktacular photos - click the Facebook ‘f’ logo below.

 

GW Community School
A Spooktacular Celebration
Ms. Kohler & Mr. Wallace
October 31, 2018

DISCOVER PANAMA! SPRING BREAK 2019

DISCOVER PANAMA!
GWCS SPRING BREAK 2019

As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is critical for our students to be more culturally aware and globally-minded. For this and many other reasons, GWCS organizes an international trip each year to enable students to experience the global classroom first-hand and see with their own eyes what they have been studying in their classes. These trips have the potential to be life-changing for students – they return home with new perspectives, not only about themselves but about the world around them.

This year, GWCS students and parents are invited to join Mr. Torres on a wonderful educational tour of Panama during Spring Break 2019. The tour will include:

  Panama Viejo Ruins

Panama Viejo Ruins

  • Visiting the Panama Viejo ruins/museum and a local pineapple farm

  • Hiking in El Valle de Anton

  • Taking a boat tour of Gatun Lake and Monkey Island

  • A snorkeling adventure, canoe ride, and plenty of other experiences where students can have a lot of fun and learn at the same time.

Discover Panama includes visits to well-known local sites; however, at its core it is much more than that – it is a cross-cultural immersion experience. Immersing oneself in the local culture and becoming better acquainted with another country’s people, food and language, creates inspirational moments of cross-cultural connection that can’t be listed in itineraries. They only can be experienced.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s Discover Panama!

Questions? Contact:

Mr. Torres
torresra@gwcommunityschool.com
Interest Meeting: October 18, 2018

GW Community School
Discover Panama
Alejandro Torres, Spanish
Spring Break 2019


The Dome Experience

‘THE DOME EXPERIENCE’ AT INOVA

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GWCS Anatomy & Physiology students had the unique opportunity to witness a live open-heart surgery as part of “The Dome Experience,” an educational program offered by the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute at the Inova Fairfax Medical Campus.

The students arrived at the Inova Medical Campus early, where they began the day with a healthy-heart pre-test as well as a lesson from the surgical nurse on healthy lifestyle choices that can help you avoid heart surgery. Then the heart surgeon arrived to explain how the day’s scheduled surgery was going to be performed.

Next, GWCS students entered the Dome, named as such for its location above the operating room and for its central windows which provide a view of the surgery a mere ten feet below. The surgical nurse remained in the Dome with the students over the course of the four-hour procedure to explain the surgery and answer questions (and there were a lot of questions!). She had with her a model of the human heart and surgical tools, all of which she encouraged the students to examine.  The surgeon continued to play the role of educator, too, pausing to reinforce points he made before the surgery, and even holding up a layer of fat that he removed from the patient’s heart for the students to see.

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Charlie, GWCS class of ’19, remarked, “When the heart stopped beating, it was so strange, yet interesting, how [the patient] was still alive due to the fact that he was hooked up to machines.” Elizabeth, another Junior, added that it was “fascinating how many people help out in the surgery.” For Sophomore Emma Grace, to see a heart stop and get revived was “definitely one of the coolest medical experiences one could witness.”

The day ended with a post-test for the students. The nurse and the surgeon again emphasized the importance of healthy lifestyles and good nutrition. Notably, the surgeon was vehement that the students should cut soda from their diets, since the sugar in soda creates fatty tissue which leads to heart problems. In all, the day was a roaring success that had students excited and talking for weeks afterward!

GW Community School
The Dome Experience
Anatomy & Physiology Class Trip
Ms. Kohler, Science Teacher
October 15, 2018


Senior College Essay Writing Retreat

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Senior College Essay Writing Retreat

Like lemmings to the sea, GWCS seniors make a final, fateful fall pilgrimage…

Wait, wait, that’s not right. Not even close to correct.

We explained to the students in advance they had nothing to fear; we were very clear about this.  We said they might experience a bit of disorientation at first and would likely feel “different” afterwards – a lightening of the spirit, a peacefulness, a satori-like epiphany – but that those were normal, in fact predictable, reactions.  It’s true that there was a storm of biblical proportions, but that just added to the mystique, although it did douse the possibility of a campfire replete with ritual incantations and such.

Just to be clear, there were neither lemmings nor cliffs involved…

Rather, the senior class, Dr. G, Mr. Wallace, and Ms. Warden ventured to Lake Anna State Park October 10 – 12 for the annual Senior College Essay Writing Retreat.  And what did we do there? In addition to conversing, breaking bread together, and enjoying off-campus life, students drafted, edited, received guidance from the faculty writing team, revised, lathered, rinsed, and repeated their way to finished or nearly finished college admission essays. Pointless sentences were made pointy and dull passive voice was made active until students authentically expressed themselves and revealed their personalities and aspirations in coherent and compelling written form.

And it was fun, too.

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GW Community School
Senior College Essay Writing Retreat
October 12, 2018
Dr. Garon, English


Coyotes Walk for Paws

COYOTES WALK FOR PAWS

On October 6th 2018, GW Community School participated, once again, in the Bully Paws: Walk for Paws 5K. It was a great event that supported homeless dogs and promoted breed awareness. Bully Paws was able to raise a substantial amount of money to save the lives of shelter dogs throughout the VA/DC/MD area. This walk would not have happened without the generosity and dedication of the families at GWCS.  https://www.bullypaws.org/

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GW Community School
Walk for Paws 5K
Mr. Connelly, History Teacher
October 6, 2018


Newtonian Mechanics - Honors Physics

GWCS honors physics
NEWTONIAN MECHANICS

Our approach to teaching Honors Physics at GWCS is narrow and deep.  We study only Newtonian Mechanics with the goal of achieving a significant conceptual impact on student mental models of how the physical world operates.

We use curricular materials developed by The University of Massachusetts’s Physics Education Research Group, which boasts experts in both physics and cognitive research.  The course is both conceptual and mathematical, requiring students to reason using the tools they’ve learned in their Geometry, Algebra I/ II, and Trigonometry classes.  Students primarily spend class time engaging in collaborative concept-based problem solving and discussion.  Through these activities, students develop an awareness of how they reason and build a conceptual framework for understanding the physical world. 

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For our end of the year capstone project students are required to design a boat, build it out of cardboard, and enter it in the Lake Accotink Cardboard Boat Regatta (read about the 2015 GWCS Regatta Victory). People often think this must be a miniaturized model boat, but it is actually a human-scale water-craft built to accommodate anywhere from one to five people! Students not only build the boat, but they must test its sea-worthiness by boarding the craft, paddling out and rounding a buoy, and returning to shore without sinking.  This is an authentic experience for the students; they sink or float based purely on their own efforts.

GW Community School
Honors Physics - Newtonian Mechanics
Dr. Cox, Science Teacher
September 24, 2018


2018 GWCS Graduation

AN EXTRAORDINARY DAY FOR AN EXTRAORDINARY COMMUNITY...

Like all things GWCS, graduation is extremely personal, authentic, and necessitates the involvement of all students, parents, and faculty striving for unity of purpose.  We celebrate our graduates -- they're definitely the stars f the day, and we celebrate the culture and community that got them to their seat on the stage.  It's a beautiful thing.

If you haven't been to a GWCS graduation, I urge you to go.  It's better than a TED Talk, an X-Men movie, and Nicholas Sparks novel rolled into one.  No spoilers here, but a glimpse of what you can expect:

location:

GWCS graduation is held at the beautiful historical landmark George Washington National Masonic Memorial.  No, not named after our beloved founders, but the setting sets the scene for the magnitude of the occasion.

 
 

HALL OF MEMORIES:

Upon arrival to graduation, guests are encouraged to walk the "hall of memories" where they are delighted with visual representation of the paths of each graduate and glimpses of special moments leading up to this day.

AWARDS:

During our ceremony we acknowledge and celebrate two'Students of the Year' and two of our 'Most Valuable Contributors' to the community.  Community School.  Get it?  The announcement of these awards is a surprise at graduation and the excitement and emotion is palpable.

FOUNDERS:

And as for the "G" and the "W", you'll hear from them too.  Rather than hiring a commencement speaker, you'll get to hear a very special message from our founders.  Mr. Goldie will make you laugh and Ms. Warden will make you cry.  (Insider tip:  Mr. Goldie always begins his speech with a lie... he won't be brief!)

Quotes & Quilts:

Like the ever-awkward blind folded Halloween doughnut match, the Heritage Feast, or Event Night, Senior Quilts are uniquely "GW" GWCS tradition.  Ms. Warden handpicks the fabric, parent volunteers gather for Saturday quilting bees at the school, and students and staff write heartfelt messages on them.  Underclassmen present the quilts to the seniors during the graduation ceremony.  The quilts serve as a "snuggable" momento that provides warmth, comfort, and reminiscence of "home".

Senior Speeches:

Last and certainly not least, our graduating seniors:  You'll definitely be hearing a speech from our valedictorian, but you won't necessarily know who he or she is.  That's because you'll hear from each of our seniors.  They've each left an indelible mark on our community, and, we know that each of them have something to say that's worth hearing.

 
 

Diplomas:

The grand finale of the graduation ceremony... the awarding of the diplomas.  Mr. Goldie and Ms. Warden congratulate each senior with handshakes that melt into hugs - big hugs - as they award the diplomas.  

Reception:

We're not done yet!  Following the ceremony, there is an exhilarated exodus to the Grand Hall for photos, food, laughter and more hugs.  

All of this is made possible, every year thanks to our...

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Volunteers: 

It takes a village to create a GWCS graduation.  Parents make life-long friends with their fellow committee members, and every non-graduate student is put to work setting up, participating in the ceremony and tearing down.  Volunteers can be dag-on proud of their accomplishment at the end of the day, knowing what a special day they've helped to create for the graduates and their families.

So, save the date:  June 15, 2019

GWCS graduation 2019!  You won't want to miss it!

GW Community School
Class of 2018 Graduation
June 16, 2018


The Power of Puppies!

What's the fail-proof remedy for exam stress?

Arnold, Alphie, & Rosebud

GWCS students were elated with the presence of three captivating three-month-old Chihuahua mix puppies who spent the day at school on Thursday, May 31, 2018.  Although everyone was invited to snuggle and play with the puppies, they spent their time in the GWCS science lab as an extension to  Ms. Kohler's Holistic Health Science lessons.  "Puppy therapy activates the parasympathetic systemic, which tells the body we are safe and can relax. Care for pets makes us responsible, promotes cardiovascular health, and reminds us we always have a friend. Puppy day was a wonderful day where students enjoyed the benefits of relaxing, giggling and connecting with our visiting furry friends." ~Ms. Kohler

Where did the puppies come from? 

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GWCS sophomore, Elizabeth, and her mom, Nancy, volunteer with Lost Dog & Cat Rescue.  They have fostered homeless dogs and cats, providing them with a safe and loving home until they find their new forever families.  In February, they had the opportunity to foster Gracie, a pregnant Chihuahua, rescued from an overcrowded shelter in Puerto Rico.  Gracie delivered four puppies in their kitchen on February 26th.  Nancy was lucky to be there and help out during the amazing event. They watched them develop from blind helpless bundles of fluff into healthy energetic puppies.  Students were invited to de-stress after taking AP exams and relax before prepping for finals.  The students had some furry fun and the puppies had a good dose of socialization. A win-win for everyone!

In addition to having dogs and cats available for adoption, Lost Dog and Cat Rescue has many different opportunities to help animals in need. Check out the website and/or contact Nancy at nlawtoncronin@gmail.com.  Also, visit the Lost Dog Cafe which helps fund the Rescue’s efforts.

GW Community School
Puppy Stress Relief Day
Ms. Kohler, Science
May 31, 2018


Coffeehouse Connections

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If we held it more than once a year would it still be as special?  This is not a metaphysical “tree falls in the forest” question; rather it’s a rumination on how wonderful GWCS Coffeehouse 2018 was.

A week later, everyone is still talking about Mike Wilcox, the evening’s final performance.  A 2006 graduate, Mike wowed everyone with his guitar virtuosity on two original compositions: That Night: Lust Sought Death, and Pulse. He was amazing!

Prior to Mike’s performance there was much to savor. It was an evening of wit and whimsy that included other music (covers, originals, and original covers), improv (Zebras in Target!), reflections on humankind’s relationship with nature (My Wife the Tree and Axolotl), original and borrowed verse, and a wee bit of a social/philosophical commentary (Diogenes Barks). What an amazingly talented and supportive community!

Thanks to all performers, our wonderfully engaging emcees, helping hands, and contributing alumni: Brian Conner (2017) who facilitated improv and Mike Wilcox.  Have I mentioned Mike?  Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout him.

Dr. G

GW Community School
Coffeehouse 2018
Steve Garon, Teacher
April 11, 2018