Ten GAC High School students traveled to Athens over the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend to participate in the prestigious JanFest, one of the oldest and largest high school band festivals in the Southeast. Hosted by the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia, JanFest welcomed 2,000 students onto campus for the 70th Annual January High School Band Festival. This four-day event is open only to invited musicians who represent the most accomplished among their high schools across the state of Georgia and the Southeast.
As we enter into the new year, we are thrilled to announce that GAC Seniors, Gabriel Uribe and Lizzie Joiner, have been named "20 Under 20" in Atlanta INtown and Reporter Newspapers, respectively. Both publications annually recognize youth in the area who make a difference in the community through volunteerism and philanthropy.
For the Christmas holiday season, the GAC School of Ballet gave many the gift of a beautiful performance. Not just to their parents, grandparents, friends, and classmates here at GAC. Middle School and High School dance elective students performed for Meadowcreek Elementary School, Village Park Senior Living Center, the Winship Cancer Center, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta-Egleston during the month of December.
GAC is thrilled to announce that Kaitlyn Williams, Trey Dixon, and Camille Hollier have been selected and featured as “20 Under 20” in Peachtree Corners Magazine’s December 2019/January 2020 edition. This honor celebrates Peachtree Corners students ages 19 and younger who have impacted the community in a significant way through leadership, and/or personal achievements.
After graduating from GAC, Jordan enrolled at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He commits to creating a positive impact in his community through his entrepreneurial ventures, and has since published several books as a college student.
Congratulations to our Middle School One Act play cast! "Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook" received third place at the Middle School Georgia Theatre Conference. This was an ensemble-driven play with a focus on collaboration.
Buckhead Art & Company occupies a large, bright showroom in the Shops Buckhead Atlanta. Floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors flood the space with light, illuminating bright white walls and cement floors covered in paint. A substantial array of works line the walls in a variety of styles from abstract to figurative, framing a set of plush couches in the center of the space. Behind a raw wood desk is a friendly face: owner Katie Jones.
Do you remember the wonder you felt as a child? When a cardboard box held endless possibilities and each star in the sky fired your imagination? We often associate wonder with childhood because it is a feeling of looking at something for the first time. Humans were created for wonder, and our teachers in our Village and Elementary School want students to experience it every day, particularly with their STEAM curriculum.
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!”
AAt a K-12 school, younger students often spend their days looking up to the older students, aspiring to be like them one day. So when 5th-grade Spartans were invited to a special “meet and greet” session with GAC’s best High School visual artists, they were delighted. Together as a class, the young artists toured the Art & Design Center, the building where the most serious and talented visual artists take classes.
GAC Varsity Baseball players had the chance of a lifetime this winter: to play baseball with kids from the D.R., getting to know them on their home turf. The D.R. is known for a few things, but its love of baseball cannot be surpassed.
Middle school math classrooms here on the GAC campus look and feel differently than most classrooms around metro Atlanta. Instead of “sit and get” instruction, worksheets, and silent practice at their desks, GAC students are fortunate to have a completely different experience.
How are we preparing our students for life beyond the four walls of the classroom? That’s a question GAC educators ask themselves often. It’s also the reason why experiential learning is always the goal here. But some subjects lend themselves more easily to these opportunities than others. For example, how can our teachers connect an AP statistics class to the real world?
My philosophy and the reason that I coach is very relational. Which I know a lot of people say, but I take it really, really seriously in building relationships with these students. Because you have a handful of very talented athletes that will continue to play after high school, but on the other hand you have another set of athletes that when they’re done, they go to college, and you only have four years to hopefully make them a better person while you have them.
GAC Middle and High School kicked off the 2019-20 school year with a renewed sense of purpose during their Spiritual Retreats.
“In eighth grade, I don't know, something clicked. I started playing and really enjoying what I was doing. Then I started getting noticed by the coaches and I was realizing I was not a bad player. That really helped my confidence in football and I decided to stick with it.”
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.
Bryant-Strother is an enticing mix of speed, strength and smarts. At The Opening, a national combine that uses four metrics for a cumulative score, he had the No. 1 ranking in Atlanta and was No. 13 in the country.
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.
“Ali is the type of athlete that every coach needs in their program. She is a strong leader and captain and sets the tone for our gym by pushing each athlete to be the best they can be,” says Coach VanderPol.
How much farther would you be in your career if you had discovered what you wanted to do earlier in life? How would it have impacted your time in college? For GAC, these questions have led to the development of a unique opportunity, the Summer Fellowship Program, which provides students with real-world experience in an industry of their choice. Students gain valuable insight into careers under the guidance of mentors who are invested in their development.
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.
For the Little Laxers (1st -2nd grade), it’s a toss-up between their coaches: Varsity Girls Lacrosse players Annie Kilpatrick '19 and Kearston Dixon '21. The Elementary girls’ lacrosse program chooses two Varsity lacrosse players to coach the young team. By the end of the season, both athletes had helped coaches produce compassionate athletes ready for the next level, both on and off the field.
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.
Chris Hinton '19 became the fifth Spartan honored with a place on the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl roster. (Since the writing of this article, his brother Myles '20 became the sixth to earn this honor.) The High School bowl game selects only 90 out of the 1.2 million football players in the nation. His Spartan predecessors have ventured out into the full scope of possibilities, including winning the 2019 NCAA College Football National Championship title to playing professional football.
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.
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.
GAC’s Concert Choir had the honor of being selected to perform "Lux Aeterna" with the New England Symphonic Ensemble at Carnegie Hall in New York City this year. Students were delighted to perform on the same stage that has hosted some of the best musicians in our country’s history. Students led by Dr. Marcus Miller put in many hours of practice to be “performance ready” for this special day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last Tuesday, in the high school chapel, the first annual Chinese New Year Celebration began featuring performances of traditional Chinese dance and song from our own International Students.
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 Hurricane 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.
The Christmas story is one many GAC students can recount by heart, but the musicians at last night’s Christmas at GAC performance told the story through scores and verse, weaving together the rich art of sound with scripture read by High School Principal Shane Woodward.
GAC drama students presented The Sound of Music to a sold-out crowd last weekend! People of all ages came out in droves to see the beloved Rogers and Hammerstein musical that we all grew up singing. As the awards pile up and the word spreads about the prowess of GAC’s drama program, the shows have become more and more popular.
The idea for Southern Commercial Roof Tech came to GAC alumni Thomas Vorpahl ('92) and Brandon Barron ('92) during a family vacation. Friends since the 6th grade, they put their plan into action in 2014, opening the doors to their roofing company in a low-rent warehouse with an unyielding commitment to success but zero employees. Since then, their company has been extremely blessed, and Vorpahl and Barron want to return the blessing. They recently gifted GAC with in-kind roofing services.
Ayden Wood, a 5th grade student at GAC, has been selected as one of the winners for the Georgia Music Educators Association Composition Contest. Students from across the state submitted musical compositions that were judged by a panel of esteemed music educators. Ayden is one of 16 students recognized and is the only winner in elementary school.
Today, our GAC family celebrated Thanksgiving at our annual all-school chapel. Students in chapel classes and chapel band led the community in praise and worship, and student body president Chandler Dula offered an inspired message to all students. “One day you might know God as a protector. Another day, you might know Him as a provider or a comforter. We don’t serve a small God. He is a “big G” God and not a “little g” God,” he said.
Wednesday marked one of the biggest days of their young lives for 10 Greater Atlanta Christian School student-athletes. Years of training and discipline have finally paid off for these seniors who have obtained scholarships to continue on as student-athletes at colleges and universities across the country. This showcase of talent, determination, and commitment is something to be expected at GAC. In just the last three years, GAC has seen over 60 student-athletes commit to playing at the collegiate level.
For GAC students, service is second nature (the class of 2018 alone volunteered nearly 20,000 hours during their high school years). Each year, GAC sends hundreds of students on over 20 mission trips. Many are during school breaks which the students give up in order to serve. But what drives these students to be Jesus’s hands and feet both locally and abroad?
Some of our recent GAC graduates are making their mark at Vanderbilt University. Endowed with a love of learning and real-life skills from their time at GAC, these students see college as a welcome challenge that they are well prepared for. Says Molly Sullivan (class of 2018), “Every day, I’m thankful for the foundation that my education at GAC has laid for me and for the role that GAC played in my path to get to Vanderbilt.”
Senior Chris Hinton becomes the fourth Spartan Football player in the past five years honored with an invitation to play in the 2019 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. “Out of over 1 million high school football players, only 90 are selected to play in this game,” Head Coach Tim Hardy said.
Congratulations to the following students for being accepted into the Georgia Jazz Educators Association Jazz Bands for the 2018-2019 school year: Megan Ruder (bass), Ben McCarty, (trumpet), Aiden Mathers (tenor saxophone), Ike Ogueri (tenor saxophone), and Julian Fernandez (piano).
Fresh out of their GAC graduation gowns, class of 2018 graduates Ford Roberts and Kyle Ellis will don Ivy League football jerseys this Fall and play against each other in a Yale vs. Princeton matchup. The game will take place in the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, a picturesque New England autumn setting for two young men raised together in the backdrop of the South on the GAC campus for many years.
We rolled out the red carpet for hundreds of GAC grandparents today on our favorite day of the year—our annual Grandparents Day. Spartans of all ages toured classrooms with their grandparents, introducing them to friends and teachers. Grandparents and grandchildren together enjoyed performances including choir, band, orchestra, drama, and dancing ensembles.
The first performance of the school year, “The Very Grey Matter of Edward Blank, ”proves to stun both GAC audiences and those at the Georgia Theater Conference. After selling over 450 tickets for the show at GAC, the cast won four awards for their moving performance of the show that tackles the stigmas of mental illness.
Fifth graders participated in “Kickin’ It With Kale” today in cooperation with Georgia Organics and October Farm-to-School Month. Students chopped fresh kale, tomatoes, garlic, and onions before preparing Sukuma Wiki, an east African dish served in Tanzania and Kenya.
GAC alum and former Bon Appetit restaurant editor is the host of high-stakes, global culinary competition, The Final Table.
Senior Gavin McDonnell was recently accepted into the prestigious All-National Choir of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). He is one of only 12 students who successfully auditioned from the state of Georgia. Selection to the All-National choir is considered one of the finest achievements available to high school choral students in the US and Gavin has earned this honor for two years in a row.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” - Socrates
At GAC, we understand that learning never ends. On top of the formal education and years of experience they bring to the table, our faculty are always hungry for more knowledge and training as the profession evolves. In fact, 76% of them hold an advanced degree. GAC offers the professional and financial support to make this possible for our teachers.
Katie Irwin, GAC Class of 2015, was honored as UGA's Amazing Student for this week and deservedly so! An exemplary student with an impressive resume even as a junior in college, she epitomizes the GAC student, one who is guided by faith, courageous in character, engaged in service, empowered by strengths, driven by passions, shaped by experiences, inspired by vision, motivated by mission, and committed to action.
Senior Victoria Huynh was recently selected as a semifinalist for the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Competition. She is among approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationwide, which represents less than one percent of all U.S. high school seniors.
In September of 2018, the home dugout on GAC’s baseball field was dedicated to the late Honorable James (Jim) Oxendine. Odendine’s family members and GAC leaders gathered together to officially name the dugout and honor a great man’s service.
Gwinnett Daily Post
GAC's Christopher Hinton is a 2019 five-star defensive line recruit and a Gwinnett Daily Post Super Six selection. “Christopher is an unbelievable young man. He’s obviously gifted and a national recruit, but he’s even better as a person. He’s very mature, motivated, selfless but he also pours into his teammates, and he has a really bright future beyond the football field as well."
Caroline titled the painting “Lunch on the Slopes”, and her hard work on this piece of artwork earned her a National Medal in the 2018 Scholastic Art & Writing Award, presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. This year, nearly 350,000 works of art and writing were submitted. Less than 1% were recognized at the national level, and Caroline’s painting was among them.
On July 1, Dr. Scott Harsh will become GAC’s third president. While he will be new to this role, he is not new to GAC. He has served for the past 22 years as a math teacher, wrestling coach, Dean of Students, HS Principal, and VP of Academic Affairs at GAC. “The love and wholehearted commitment to GAC has become a blazing fire in his life,” said current GAC President Dr. David Fincher.
State championship titles seem to come in threes for the young women on GAC’s 4x100 Relay team. However, two team members have a one-of-a-kind bond: they’re sisters as well as competitors. In their 12 years at GAC, this is the first of goodbyes for these sisters. Jada now attends Harvard University on a track scholarship, while Jasmine remains at GAC to finish high school and her track career.
by David Friedlander from Gwinnett Daily Post
It’s not that Greater Atlanta Christian boys basketball coach David Eaton had low expectations for his team in the 2017-18 campaign.
As an on-air correspondent based at CNBC's Washington, D.C. bureau, Tausche focuses on the intersection of government and business. She joined CNBC in 2011 as a general assignment reporter covering corporate finance and deals for CNBC's Business Day programming, including reporting on a wide range of high-profile stories for the network like the Facebook initial public offering, the Occupy Wall Street movement and the News Corp. phone hacking.
Congratulations to the GHSA Region 3AAA runner-up Literary Team. Region winning subject areas include personal essay, argumentative essay, boys quartet, and boys solo.
Bri Emery '04 is a Los Angeles based graphic designer and art director and the founder of designlovefest, a lifestyle blog with an eye for design in style, DIY, food, travel, entertaining and more. This alumni is on fire.
“Ivy League isn’t for everyone, but for those guys, it absolutely is. They’ve positioned themselves — through hard work, through dedication to their craft and academics — to have those opportunities. Those aren’t easy opportunities to have. So we love saying those are our guys, but, man, they’ve earned it for themselves.”
Greater Atlanta Christian grad and Buford native Cindy Brogdon was announced Thursday as a member of the Southeastern Conference 2018 Class of Women’s Legends.
A video of Drew Curd '10 receiving a thoughtful Christmas present from his girlfriend goes viral.
For three years in a foreign country, a young alumna serves as a church planter and uses art as a ministry tool to reach the unreached.
“My mom has taught me and my brothers to be more than that — to not identify yourself as your profession,” Brogdon, 24, said to an audience of Morehouse students and faculty recently. “It’s more so what type of person you are, what type of character you have and how you treat your fellow man.”