St. Pius, Woodward win GHSA appeals to avoid 7A

St. Pius and Woodward Academy won’t be competing in the highest classification next year after all. They were among 34 GHSA schools that went home happy Wednesday after the Georgia High School Association approved their appeals to play in classifications other than the ones assigned them last month.

Most other private schools were less fortunate. Marist and Blessed Trinity lost appeals and will be in Class 6A, the second-highest class, joining St. Pius and Woodward. The four are currently in 5A or 4A. Greater Atlanta Christian will be in 5A, up from 3A. Lovett will be in 4A, up from 2A.

Others among 19 schools losing appeals were Kennesaw Mountain, Camden County and Richmond Hill. They will be in Class 7A. City schools Calhoun and Jefferson also lost appeals. Both will be in 5A. Other cities schools denied were Bremen, Thomasville, Vidalia and Social Circle.

Another prominent city school perhaps got a break. Cartersville, originally slotted for 6A, was allowed to remain in Class 5A because another school, Jackson County, petitioned to play up in 6A and was approved. That means the smallest school in 6A gets to move down, and Cartersville was it. Cartersville has the No. 1-ranked football team in Class 5A currently.

Several schools petitioned to play in higher classifications, and almost all were approved. Holy Innocents’ and Trinity Christian, which currently are Class A Private schools, and Pace Academy, currently a 2A school, were admitted into 4A. Trinity Christian is the No. 1-ranked Class A Private football team, and Holy Innocents’ and Pace won nine state titles last academic year between them.

Cartersville was among six schools that were allowed to move down because of successful petitions to move up and take their places. Their appeals became unnecessary and were withdrawn. The other five were East Paulding, Whitewater, Pickens, East Jackson and Sonoraville.

The classification decisions are effective for the 2022-23 academic year. The number of appeals, which took nine hours to hear, are probably the most in GHSA history. Private and city schools were the most affected by this reclassification, which used a 3.0 multiplier on out-of-district enrollment to address the belief that they have an unfair competitive advantage.

“The reclassification committee the whole time was looking at competitive balance and out-of-district numbers, and I think we stuck by that today,’' said Dr. Curt Miller, the reclassification committee chairman.

Appeals results

From 7A to 6A:

Won - Arabia Mountain, East Paulding*, Etowah, Rockdale County, St. Pius, Woodward Academy

Lost - Camden County, Carrollton, Kennesaw Mountain, Richmond Hill

From 6A to 5A:

Won: Cartersville*, Chapel Hill, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate,

Lost: Blessed Trinity, Marist, New Manchester

From 6A to 4A:

Lost: Thomas County Central

From 5A to 4A:

Won: Perry, Riverdale, Starr’s Mill, Walnut Grove, Whitewater*

Lost: Calhoun, Flowery Branch, Greater Atlanta Christian, Jefferson, Jenkins,

From 4A to 3A:

Won: Central-Macon, Cross Creek, Johnson-Savannah, Pickens*, Richmond Academy, Ridgeland, Sonoraville*, West Hall

From 4A to 2A:

Lost: Lovett

From 3A to 2A:

Won: East Jackson*, Therrell

Lost: Bremen, Thomasville, Vidalia

From 2A to A:

Won: Bryan County

Lost: Social Circle

*Six schools were allowed to move down without appealing to accommodate schools below that won petitions to move up.

Schools petitioning to play up:

All won except Fellowship Christian, which must remain in Class A Private.

7A: Milton

6A: Jackson County

5A: Mays

4A: Holy Innocents’, Pace Academy, Trinity Christian

3A: Savannah, Woodville-Tompkins

2A: Aquinas, B.E.S.T. Academy, Coretta Scott King, Davidson Fine Arts, Elite Scholars, Johnson-Augusta, Technical Career Magnet