September is National Literacy Month, and GAC has a great role model in its 18-year-veteran Media Specialist Ms. Bonnie Baker. A voracious reader, she read 42 books over the past summer alone and has read 5,000 of the 14,479 titles in the Liles Media Center to date. (She keeps a spreadsheet to track her progress). Ms. Baker has one piece of advice for students who want to know her secret: “Don’t have screens nearby!”
GAC Middle and High School kicked off the 2019-20 school year with a renewed sense of purpose during their Spiritual Retreats. The theme for these retreats was Closer, and the emphasis for both schools was on how students can bring themselves closer to God. Spiritual retreat speakers encourage students to think critically about their relationships with God and how they might be proactive in their understanding of God. During the week long experience (or day long for Middle School), speakers are brought in from local churches, while others are our very own.
When you consider how to help the thousands of homeless individuals living in Gwinnett County, do you think of slime? Neither do we. But GAC’s Anna Hardy, an 8th grader at GAC this year, connected those dots last summer and raised $1,800 for others.
GAC sophomore Ivy Lee is headed to Carnegie Hall in New York City for the second time this year to perform. She recently placed 2nd in the Golden Classical Music Awards International Competition. That win comes with an invitation to play at the winners recital in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on November 3. Ivy plays flute and piccolo in the GAC Symphonic Band and the GAC Marching Spartans.
GAC had a wonderful start to the school year this morning as faculty and students from pre-first to seniors gathered in the Long Forum for a time of worship, reflection, and celebration. The energy was palpable in the room and all were excited to be together and to launch into school. A new school year means new beginnings, new goals, and a fresh perspective. Head Prefect Johnny Meshramkar encouraged the student body to be present this school year and truly take in and enjoy each experience, even as they work hard towards their goals.
Greater Atlanta Christian star Jasmine Jones, a two-time Daily Post athlete of the year, earned another major honor Thursday when the rising senior was named the Gatorade Georgia Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track. Jones is now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, which is announced later this month.
As employers require more and more work experience from entry-level employees, where does that leave students who are fresh out of college and new to the workforce? GPAs and extracurriculars don’t carry the weight they once did, and students must consistently do more to get a leg up. To fill that gap and ensure that our graduates gain the valuable experience they need, GAC’s Community Relations and College Counseling teams have partnered together to create the GAC Summer Fellowship Program.
This week, GAC hosted a national conference for its teachers and Ethos partner schools on Neuroeducation: Teaching Models Informed by Neuroscience. This conference featured Dr. Mariale Hardiman, Vice Dean of Academic Affairs at the Johns Hopkins School of Education.
The Prefect System might sound like something straight out of a Harry Potter novel. In actuality, it’s GAC’s new leadership program comprised of student leaders from the senior class (selected during their junior year) who possess a high degree of commitment to the school’s values and ideals.
Wednesday was College Signing Day and everyone is excited for what the future holds for these students. But are they ready? That is the big question and the motivation behind why GAC invests considerable resources into developing the best AP Program in Atlanta. GAC is tied for the top Atlanta private school to have the highest AP pass rate at 84% in 26 AP courses.
Two recent Greater Atlanta Christian School alumni have been chosen to captain the U.S. Naval Academy football team for the 2019 season. Captains are elected by a team vote, and for the first time ever, 4 co-captains were chosen. GAC graduates Paul Carothers of Flowery Branch (Class of 2015) and Ford Higgins of Peachtree Corners (Class of 2016) are seniors at the Naval Academy and will lead the team side-by-side, just as they did while they were Spartans
GAC Theater Director Kristy Winkes won a Shuler Award for Best Direction at the 2019 Shuler Hensley Awards. This award underscores Ms. Winkes’ incredible skill in directing GAC’s tour de force performance of Les Miserables. The 70-person cast included students from K-12, making it the largest to date.
Quantifying things is right up Elise Karinshak’s alley. In fact, you could say that she’s an expert at it. This senior earned a perfect score on her ACT, a 5 on her AP Calculus exam (one of many AP exams she’s aced), is a National Merit Commended Scholar, and was selected as a candidate for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. But Elise will readily admit that some of the best things from her 14 years at GAC cannot be easily quantified:
It’s admissions season but it’s very unlikely that students are filling out their school applications, at least not to Admissions Director Mary Helen Bryant’s knowledge. But some students defy the norm. Enter senior Chandler Dula. As a fifth grader, Chandler had his sights set on GAC and so he did what any exceptionally driven, go-getter would do: he filled out his own application.
To get a top score on an AP exam — a 5 on the 5-point scale — is a significant achievement that often enables students to get college credit. To get a perfect score is a rare occurrence. Out of over 300,000 students around the world who took the AP Government exam last May, only 113 got every answer right. Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, Georgia boasts two of these students: Jack Hollier and Victoria Huynh.
The reminders on Jackson Willyerd’s wall at home aren’t something you would expect of a high school student. Most of them sound like the pep talk of a mature adult: “Don’t be afraid of work that has no end (loving, hunger, thirst, injustice).” “Will it matter in 5 days? 5 months? 5 years? 5 decades?” “Did you make someone else’s day better?”
An organization’s culture is not something that can be imposed or something that is born from a strategic plan. It comes from within and is as natural as breathing. For GAC, an innate part of its culture is the spiritual community that has defined it from the very beginning when a visionary group of men and women gathered together to pray over the undeveloped land. Today’s grassroots efforts among faculty, staff, and students to meet, pray, and meditate on God’s Word demonstrates that this commitment to spiritual community goes beyond Bible class and chapel.
Each year, GAC students have the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Greece to work alongside Hellenic Ministries, an organization that serves refugees in the area. For most, this is an incredibly meaningful experience. For senior Katie Williams, the trips she has taken to Greece since her freshman year inspired her to create an entire AP art portfolio based on the experience of the refugees she met.
Greater Atlanta Christian School picked up 8 Shuler Award nominations for its recent Les Misérables performance. This is a record number of nominations for the school with a rich tradition of excellence in theatre production.
We were so glad to have GAC graduates back “home” on campus for the day on Friday, March 22. Our Alumni Speaker Series event, hosted by the Alumni Relations Office, provides current GAC juniors and seniors with a unique opportunity to hear from fellow Spartans about life after graduation, college experiences, and their chosen careers. We hosted alumni from a broad variety of professions: engineer, doctor, nurse, law professor, lawyer, art professor, interior designer, accountant, IT sales professional, military pilot, cybersecurity expert, human resources expert, and more. GAC students were matched with alumni whose careers matched their current interests.
Our JV Math and JV Academic Teams both finished as state runner-ups after competing against the largest schools in the state earlier this month. For the Academic Team, this was their third consecutive top-2 finish. Congratulations to team members Jane Lee, Andy Jiang, Derek Fan, Joel Lee, Rose Gambrell, Lynn Sim, Ivy Comery, Darlene Nguyen, Hanna Harmon, Rohan Makim, Thomas Witherspoon, Gia-An Maynard, Vincent Huynh, and Sophia Nguyen.
Senior Victoria Huynh and Teacher Mary Lynn Huett were recently honored at the Gwinnett County’s annual STAR Student and STAR Teacher recognition luncheon. This honor comes as a result of Victoria earning the highest score on the SAT and being in the top 10 percent of her class.
Children who love to read will many times begin writing stories and creating fantasy worlds at a young age. This was the case for GAC junior Navya Sarikonda. As a child, she was a voracious reader, which her father credits to the Accelerated Reading Program beginning in Lower School. Her father recalls her in the first few years of elementary school consuming books faster than she could check them out from the Henderson Media Center.
Karen Cherry, 4th grade teacher, shares what gets her excited about applying STEAM to her classroom curriculum and why it's important. "STEAM activities expose students to the creative process of problem-solving in an encouraging environment where the stress of a 'right answer' (which is often required in a traditional style of learning) is removed. Students' critical thinking increases since they have to think systematically through a task. They learn to look through all stages before beginning to work logically towards completion. As their problem solving skills expand, students are then able to look at current conditions/problems that mankind and the environment are experiencing and freely let their ideas flow in an inhibited manner to offer solutions.
Victoria Chyrack helped close out Black History Month in a big way. This senior felt motivated to organize GAC’s first ever I Have A Dream Chapel. From "Feeling Good" with the trombone back up, to a choral rendition of “It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day” to “September” by the GAC Band, the assembly was one of the most moving this year. Concluding the chapel was Victoria herself with a speech that captivated everyone in attendance. “I am aware now more so than ever of the power infeasible dreams hold and how something as quiet as an idea can crescendo into an anthem.”
Mock Trial students know this to be true: you don’t leave this group unchanged. Through practice and preparation, students become more polished, confident, professional, and able to speak publicly. Whether they will go on to pursue a career in law or not, they are better for the time they spent on the Mock Trial team.
For Valentine’s Day, students at GAC wanted to reach beyond the walls of the school and show their love to the homeless in Atlanta. Partnering with Homeless at Heart, GAC students prepared nearly 200 handmade Valentine’s Day boxes, filled with personal care items, snacks, small gifts, and handwritten notes of love and encouragement, to be distributed to the homeless community in Atlanta this week. Twenty of the boxes are going to young people who were recused from human trafficking during the Super Bowl in Atlanta last week.
GAC students in Meredith Baker’s enrichment class have taken on a special project this semester. They have engaged with the Memory Project, a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers, art students, and solo artists to help cultivate global kindness by creating portraits for children around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as violence, war, extreme poverty, neglect, and loss of parents.
Did you know that students who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop an alcohol dependency? Perfectly timed with this weekend’s Super Bowl event, former NFL football players spoke to GAC high school students on Wednesday about this statistic, urging them to take a pledge of alcohol and drug abstinence.
When you ask a question, you never know where the answer will lead. That becomes very apparent in talking with the students in Derek Wilson’s Capstone course. Students in this rigorous post-AP class take on the most challenging course available at GAC, one that prepares them to think and work as college students. They are required to think creatively, going beyond summarizing research to finding their voice and making their own discoveries in the process.
Art teacher Tim Baker and Spanish teacher Mark Boyd both serve in the Georgia Army National Guard on active duty. At least once a year, both men are called to one of many different populations to protect and serve. “This allows me the opportunity to be with a group of guys who are grounded, they all serve,” said Sergeant Major (known at GAC as Mr.) Baker.
Puerto Ricans had already lived through the infrastructural stress left from Hurrican Irma mere weeks before Hurricane Maria struck with the strength to incapacitate the entire US territory. With the failing of the entire electrical grid, inoperable water systems, and the eradication of thousands of houses, the Category 5 Hurricane left almost none of the 3.3 million population unscathed in some way. As donations flood the island from all directions, the need for additional manpower must does the same.
Everyone could use a little inspiration. For the teachers and students at Meadowcreek Elementary School in Norcross, Georgia, sometimes that inspiration comes in the form of GAC Middle and High School students who take the bus across the street to serve in their classrooms. It’s neighbor helping neighbor, as both GAC and Meadowcreek students benefit from the partnership that has spanned many decades.
Time is something that is constantly on Savannah Mitchell’s mind. There’s the time she wakes up in the morning to make her 5:15 training practices; the time she needs to stay alert to do well in her AP courses; and the personal best times which she trains hard to beat. For this senior, you could say that time is everything, and something she never wastes.