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  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

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

The Canterbury Tales

GWCS Honors English - the Canterbury Tales
A Road-Trip Well Travelled

Teacher:  Dr. Garon

I love the Canterbury Tales, and I’m not afraid to admit it in public.  I believe most students will love (or at least fondly remember) the tales once they get past the lengthy General Prologue and the difficulties associated with some translations.  I prefer the Nevill Coghill translation because it is user-friendly but not watered-down while feeling true to Chaucer’s style (heroic couplets and all that).  Many students have a hard time wrapping their minds around the idea of a religious pilgrimage, but they can appreciate the allure of a road trip.  That’s what the Canterbury pilgrimage was – a road trip/party for many of the pilgrims to celebrate the passage of winter and, oh yeah, the ultimate sacrifice of the blessed martyr.  What makes the Canterbury pilgrimage all the more interesting is that it provided the opportunity for social classes to intermingle, which seldom happened in England during the late Middle Ages. Chaucer’s use of the frame story allows the us to “hear” the voices of characters from all three estates (those who fight, those who pray, and those who work) and the class divisions within those estates.

When teaching General Prologue, I have the students focus on how Chaucer reveals each pilgrim’s character through the narrator’s observations, the character’s own words, and the character’s physical appearance (physiognomy, or the use of physical appearance to suggest attributes of a person’s character or personality).  I ask them to speculate on which characters Chaucer likes best and least and why.  I also have them look for evidence of satire and what beliefs, practices or institutions Chaucer was suggesting – subtly – needed changing.  To this end I have them focus on Chaucer’s descriptions of the Prioress, the Monk, and Friar and examine the extent to which each upholds the holy vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity, respectively.  Students love pointing out the hypocrisy of their elders, especially those who claim to be moral leaders.

Once past the General Prologue, I believe the character prologues and tales more or less tell themselves, the bawdier the better.  We read the Miller’s Prologue and Tale and examine how it is a parody of the Knight’s Tale that precedes it. We read the Pardoner’s Prologue and Tale as an example of a Cautionary Tale and the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale since she is such an outrageous character and, arguably, the first feminist character in European literature.  I believe the Canterbury Tales offers something for everyone. Maybe it should accompany you on your next road trip.

GW Community School
Honors English
Steve Garon, Teacher
February 7, 2018

Celebrating Our Senior Basketball Families

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Yes, playing varsity basketball does come with a lot of glory, but sometimes it’s nice to share the glory with others, like the people who put in the real work involved in getting you to this point: your family! Senior Night was introduced to us last year by (then junior) Cate Hartnett. We celebrated senior night at the last girls' game in 2017 and had a lot of fun with it. 2018? Even better. We celebrated at the last boys' game of January and the first girls' game of February with great success. At halftime of each game, the seniors were introduced (sometimes taunted) by Mr. Connelly, and they were escorted onto the court by a variety of family members. They were all paparazzied into oblivion, and then the games were finished. Following the games, everyone in attendance was served cake and drinks by parent volunteers and we hung around talking about how great basketball is and how much the seniors will be missed next year! To top it all off, all of the seniors each received a silver-plated basketball keychain engraved with their name and number.

We will surely miss you: Cate, Mattie, Kelley, Delia, Laura, Zach, Anthony, Noah, Scott, Neel, and Preston!

Special thanks to all of the underclassmen parent volunteers who helped organize and implement both senior nights - from cubbies to flowers to cakes - it was a slam dunk!  Scroll down and enjoy the show...

senior boys - gwcs varsity basketball


SENIOR Girls - gwcs varsity Basketball

GW Community School
Senior Basketball Nights
Richard Goldie, Coach
February 1 & 2, 2018

Create, Explore, Problem-Solve, Innovate, Express Yourself and Have Fun!

GWCS AP® Computer Science Principles

Teacher:  Dr. Cox

AP® Computer Science Principles (APCSP) was specifically designed by the National Science Foundation and the College Board to attract diverse students to computing and unleash their creativity, leveraging the power of computer science to make the world a better place for everyone.

In APCSP at GWCS, we spend the first semester learning the principles that underlie the internet. We explore computing innovations, their impact on society, and the data privacy and security concerns that come with using the internet. In the second semester, students learn about abstraction and algorithms while coding in Javascript, creating web apps which reflect their own interests and priorities.

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Above are a few screenshots from a student-created app. Early in the second semester, students are learning how to make their apps engaging by including elements such as buttons, images and sounds. You can use the app yourself  - click here.  

Learn more about this APCSP course at:

GW Community School
AP® Computer Science Principles
Caroline Cox, Teacher
January 19, 2018

Spotlight on
Senior Seminar

gwcs ENGLISH Senior Seminar

TEACHER:  Mr. Pereira

One of the greatest things about being an English teacher at GWCS is the Senior Seminar. This class, taught every two years, focuses on an area of literary interest and covers it in depth, more like a college seminar than a typical high school English historical survey course. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to teach classes on Hamlet, Sea Adventures, Postmodern Literature and even a glorious class on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As a teacher I appreciate Senior Seminars because they allow me to explore my own passions and interests with my students. They also allow me to construct classes based on the interests of my students. 

This year I am teaching Honors African-American Literature; although this is a subject I have long been interested in, the reason I'm teaching it is because, over the last few years, I noticed students responding with particular enthusiasm to the African-American authors we read in American literature. In fact, I had some students specifically ask for this class, so it's been such a privilege to be able to teach it to them! We have been diving deep into the history and different varieties of African-American literary and cultural expression, from song lyrics to philosophy, short stories to speeches.  

Something special happens in a classroom when students know not only that the teacher has a personal connection to the material, but the class was created with them, specifically, in mind. Every class at GWCS affords possibilities for that kind of engagement, but Senior Seminar is my personal favorite. 

GW Community School
English Senior Seminar
Daniel Pereira, Teacher
January 4, 2018

The Actor's Nightmare

a director's contemplation of the process

The joy of producing a theatrical performance can hardly be matched by any other human endeavor. It is so satisfying to be on stage, to feel the pressure, to feel the anticipation of the audience, to hear the laughter and the applause, to screw up one of your lines and then fix it without anyone (outside of the cast) knowing how close the show actually came to disastrous humiliation. It is absolutely exhilarating!

It is also a great joy to work with energetic, dedicated, theatre-loving students who give their best efforts to make the performances at GWCS excellent! The cast of The Actor’s Nightmare were all GWCS stage veterans. Delia, Lizzie, Anne, Nick and Jack all worked together in last year’s production of My Three Angels, and most of them have done other GWCS productions as well.

If you have never helped produce a play, you are missing out on one of life’s great experiences. I don’t want to give away all of the theatre department secrets, but you should, at least once in your life, know what it’s like to do a halfer, a part-swap, a greenroom gossip, and a theatre-styled Chinese take-out!

As the play slowly becomes a distant memory, and the students slowly (very slowly) stop saying their lines at random times and in random places and for no particular reason, there is really only one thing left to ponder: What will the spring performance be, and are you going to get involved in its production?

GW Community School
Richard Goldie, GWCS Theatre Director
December 15, 2017

The Actor's Nightmare Program including Actor Bios:

GW Community School Theatre
One-Act Play Performance:
The Actor's Nightmare
December 13, 14, 15, 2017



Ms. Kohler's Holistic Health Science class went to Food for Others Food Bank on Thursday, December 14, 2017 to donate 319 pounds of food! The entire school participated in contributing the donated goods. Food for Others supports 90,000 Fairfax County families who have been diagnosed as food insecure (unsure of where their next meal will come from).

A doctor's office in Burke, Virginia has started a pilot program partnering with Food for Others to prescribe a food prescription for families in need. Ms. Kohler's Holistic Health Science class got a personalized tour of the facility and had a private Q and A session with the director! It was truly an educational and heartwarming experience.

Thank you to all the GWCS families who contributed to this Food Drive.  Your generosity is especially appreciated at this time of year.

Food for Others Food Drive
Ms. Kohler's Holistic Health Science Class
December 14, 2017

Reflections from an Alumni Parent, 14 Years Later

Dear Friends of GW Community School,

I'm the parent of a 2004 GWCS graduate.  My son started late in his freshman year after a long struggle with social anxiety.  He had always loved school, but was having trouble going.  Finding GWCS gave him his life back, and he thrived!  It was a place where he could be challenged academically, take part in extra curricular activities and feel part of a community.  My shy son got involved in Student Government and Theatre productions and he traveled to Costa Rica and Spain.  He went on to get into several colleges.  He's now completing his fellowship in pediatric pulmonology, and is a husband and father.  The amazing teachers, and the welcoming and supportive environment made all the difference in the world to my son, and I continue to be incredibly thankful that we found this school.

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I'm writing you today to ask for your support of GWCS.  I know there are many more stories like mine out there, and many more kids who need a place like this.  It's not easy to run a small school.  Year after year, the staff and teachers have made it work.  I am starting an alumni campaign to connect past parents and students with the school, to invite them to stay involved and to help support the efforts of the staff and teachers of GWCS.  My goal is to help keep the school running for many more years so as to help many, many more kids like ours.


  • EXPLORE the school's wonderful website at
  • FOLLOW the GW Community School on Facebook.  Follow what's happening at the school by sending a friend request to the 'Goldie Warden' Facebook page and check in with alumni on the GWCS Alumni Group.
  • SUPPORT the school and its many programs by going to www.gwcommunityschool/support-us.  Here are a few ways you can help:
    • Annual Auction Fundraiser:  This is a VIRTUAL Auction - no need to leave the comfort of your home to support the school and score some great finds.  The Auction will run March 6 -15, 2018.  Donate items and/or bid on auction items. 
      Visit the Support Us page on the school's website for more info.
    • Direct Donations:  If you'd just like to donate directly, you can do so from the
      Support Us page of the GW Community School website or by mail.*
    • Shop through Cause Network.  Sign up on your computer or download the app for your phone and make purchases through the site to support the school!  Details on the Support Us page of the GWCS website!

I'm sending letters this year because I don't have many emails.  If you'd prefer me to use email to get in touch with you, please send me yours.

Thanks for reading my letter.  I hope you will consider joining me in helping this amazing school so they can continue to help kids like ours for years to come.


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Jean Abood
2004 GWCS Alumni Parent

*Because of the school's tax status, donations are not tax decuctible but are needed and appreciated very much!

GW Community School
2004 Alumni Parent
Letter Sent December 2017