Starting next school year, Columbia County’s four most populous high schools will make up their own subregion, while the other will be in a more advantageous position.
That was the fallout of Tuesday’s announcement by the Georgia High School Association of the new regional alignment for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.
Two weeks prior, the GHSA had announced the new classification alignment, according to a six-classification plan. The GHSA has five classes this school year.
Reclassification is conducted every two years, aligning schools based on population and geography.
Evans, Lakeside, Greenbrier and Grovetown have been placed into their own subregion: Region 2-AAAAA, Subregion A.
The Knights, Panthers and Wolfpack will be moving up a single classification, while the Warriors will be moving up two from Class AAA.
Meanwhile, Harlem will move down a classification into Class AA. Harlem has been a Class AA-sized school, but has been competing in AAA to ease travel burdens.
The Bulldogs have been slotted into Region 3-AA, Subregion B, along with Davidson Fine Arts, Laney, Screven County and Westside.
Schools have until noon Friday to appeal region placement and attempt a lateral transfer. The reclassification committee will hear these appeals the morning of Dec. 19 at the GHSA’s office building, according to the organization’s Web site.
Meanwhile, Augusta Prep lost a team, Trinity Christian, from its region, 4-AAA, in the Georgia Independent School Association’s recent realignment.
Greenbrier High School Athletic Director Garrett Black represents the county as a member of the GHSA’s Executive Committee.
Black said the committee’s goal during reclassification meetings was to create the best balance between maintaining parity and geography concerns. He believes the six-classification plan is most consistent with those goals.
Also, he stressed that travel considerations were a key point, considering the economy’s effect on school systems across Georgia.
Black said that he’s excited to remain in the same region with county rivals Evans and Lakeside and to gain another in Grovetown.
Though Grovetown has consistently played against the other three in most sports, those contests will now actually count toward region standings.
Grovetown Athletic Director Todd Booker said the new setup will intensify his school’s already-formed rivalries with Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside.
This school year, Grovetown and Harlem play in the same region in Class AAA. Despite the Warriors moving up and Bulldogs moving down, Booker hopes they can continue to play each other.
While the GHSA is known for its role in the athletics side, it also covers competition in literary, debate and one-act in drama.
On the drama side, the GHSA’s realignment will not affect what has become a friendly rivalry between Harlem and Davidson Fine Arts for more than a decade.
Harlem has won at least 20 region titles under the direction of Roy Lewis, while Davidson is a school known for its fine arts offerings. During their time in the same region, Davidson has beaten Harlem for a region title only twice, Lewis said.
He admitted that it is “very frustrating” that the two are in the same region. That’s because, unlike the athletics side, only the region champion moves on to the state competition in drama.
So each year, one of the two stellar programs is left home.