A Spooktacular Celebration


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



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
Interest Meeting: October 18, 2018

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

The Dome Experience


dome experience - web image - not gwcs students.jpg

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.

Inova Fieldtrip Group.jpg

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

Photo Oct 10, 5 41 37 PM.jpg

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.


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

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/


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

Newtonian Mechanics - Honors Physics

GWCS honors physics

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. 


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


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:


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.



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.


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.


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.



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.  


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...

2018 grad vols.jpg


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? 

warden puppies.jpg

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

coffeehouse logo - Copy.JPG

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

Astro Class Meets Crab Nebula


On Sunday,  April 8th, the Astro class (Christian, Kian, Anne, and Delia, our parent chaperones Ms. O’Grady and Mr. Monette) traveled to the Green Bank Observatory in the National Radio Quiet Zone in West Virginia, home of the largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world, the 300 foot Green Bank Telescope.   Our mission: to make a radio map of a region of the sky that includes the Crab Nebula supernova remnant in Taurus and the Orion Nebula, which includes a star forming region. 

Upon arrival, in order to avoid contributing to radio frequency interference that can interfere with the astronomers’ observations, we switched off our electronic devices, including our cell phones.  Ms. O’Grady thoughtfully provided disposable film cameras to the students so they could document their experience.   After some time exploring the exhibits in the science center, we headed down to the education telescope to learn how to use it.  The 40 foot telescope dates from the 1960s, the heyday of radio astronomy, and re-uses equipment leftover from other projects, including the original feed used for project OZMA, the first organized scientific search for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. 

The data is recorded on a long scroll of paper, a section of which looks like this:

GW Community School
Astronomy & Astrophysics Class Trip
Dr. Caroline Cox, Teacher
April 8, 2018

Lettuce Lord Challenge


March 7, 2018 was GWCS’s second annual lettuce eating competition.  This is a competition where everyone is invited to sign up and eat a head of iceberg lettuce.  The first person to finish is crowned, da dada daaaaaa... The Lettuce Lord.  The competition this year was very close. Conner narrowly beat Delia, last year’s Lettuce Lord, by a leaf!  Congratulations to Conner our new reigning Lettuce Lord! 

Along with the eating competition, we added a raffle to raise funds for the 2018 GWCS Prom.  Students purchased and placed raffle tickets in a voting bag in front of the person who they thought would finish eating the head of lettuce first.  Afterwards, raffle tickets were drawn from the winner’s bag and the raffle winner won a mystery-box prize.  Coincidentally, the raffle winner was Delia!  Even though she was in the competition, she supported all the other competitors by adding a raffle ticket into each of their bags.  Congratulations Delia!

GW Community School
Lettuce Lord Challenge
Laura Mauney
Prom Committee

Catch a Coyote
Being Kind

Coyote Kindness

GWCS Coyotes celebrated Valentine's Day all week by actively participating in a game we like to call "Catch a Coyote Being Kind."  Any time a student or teacher noticed someone being KIND, they wrote it down on one of the poster boards hanging around school. 

"Kindness begets kindness." ~Greek Proverb

Kindness is one of the eight GWCS Values and as a small, tight-knit community, we recognize it is one of our most important values!  GWCS Advisors devoted some of their morning time this week to talking about the importance of kindness and students shared their experiences on how being the recipient as well as the giver of kindness affects how they feel.  

Psychology Today by Karyn Hall, Ph.D.
     "There are different ways to practice kindness. One way to be kind is to open your eyes and be active when you see people in need. Do you notice when people could use a helping hand? A sense of community is created when people are kind to those who need help.
Opening your eyes means noticing when others are suffering. A kind word, a smile, opening a door, or helping carry a heavy load can all be acts of kindness. Celebrating someone you love, giving honest compliments, sending an email thanking someone, telling someone how s/he is special to you, helping an elderly neighbor with yard work or food, taking a photo of someone and sending it to the person, sharing homemade food, refusing to gossip, and donating old clothing and things you don't need are all ideas about how to practice kindness. 
Kindness is a willingness to full-heartedly celebrate someone else's successes. Gottman's work shows that your response to someone's successes may determine more about your relationship than how you respond when times are difficult. Do you minimize the success, not pay attention to it, or bring up all the problems with the success? Kindness is to be openly happy for the other person.
Kindness is also about telling the truth in a gentle way when doing so is helpful to the other person. Receiving accurate feedback in a loving and caring way is an important part of a trusted relationship. The courage to give and receive truthful feedback is a key component of growth and flexible thinking.
Kindness includes being kind to yourself. Do you treat yourself kindly? Do you speak gently and kindly to yourself and take good care of yourself?"

Hall, Karyn. The Importance of Kindness. Psychology Today. 2017. Web. February 14, 2017.

GW Community School
Catch a Coyote Being Kind
Cassie Sinichko
February 14, 2018