St. Anne-Pacelli becomes 9th GHSA school to leave for GISA

St. Anne-Pacelli

Credit: St. Anne-Pacelli

Credit: St. Anne-Pacelli

St. Anne-Pacelli

St. Anne-Pacelli announced Monday that it was leaving the Georgia High School Association effective with the 2022-23 academic year and joining the Georgia Independent School Association.

The Columbus private school cited concerns over the GHSA’s decision to expand Class A, putting St. Anne-Pacelli, with 247 students, up against larger schools, and the association’s district-boundary rules that could make it harder for transfer students to get immediate eligibility.

St. Anne-Pacelli is the ninth Class A Private school to announce its departure but the first with no prior affiliation with GISA. Pacelli has been part of the GHSA since 1961. The school became St. Anne-Pacelli after a merger in 2008.

The GHSA now has only 27 football-playing schools slated to return to Class A Private next season, and that includes two (Our Lady of Mercy and Pinecrest Academy) that aren’t currently fielding 11-man GHSA teams.

Other GHSA members that won’t be back next year are First Presbyterian, Tattnall Square, Stratford Academy and Mount de Sales of Macon, Strong Rock Christian of Locust Grove, Deerfield-Windsor of Albany, the Heritage School of Newnan and George Walton Academy.

The GHSA had already placed St. Anne-Pacelli in Region 1 for the upcoming academic year, but that region now has only one football-playing school – Brookstone, also of Columbus. Another departing school, Heritage, also was slated for that region that won’t be there.

“Clearly you can’t have a one-team region, so I would expect the reclass committee to work toward a solution to address this and the small number of football playing schools in 1A private,’' GHSA executive director Dr. Robin Hines said Monday.

St. Anne-Pacelli announced the move in a letter from athletic director Corry Black. In it, he stated:

“The GHSA Reclassification Committee released new classifications on November 1st moving the high school enrollment for A Private from 525 to 585. This forces our student-athletes to compete against even larger schools than we are already competing against. In July, the GHSA passed legislation that went into effect immediately confining the attendance zones for private schools to the public-school zone where the private school is located, thus making our attendance zone that of Hardaway High School. This means that if a high school student moved to the area and wanted to come to St. Anne-Pacelli, they would be ineligible to participate in athletic or scholastic competition for a year, unless they moved to the St. Anne-Pacelli (Hardaway High School) attendance zone.”