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VHSL approves Waynesboro's request to join Shenandoah District

VHSL approves Waynesboro's request to join Shenandoah District

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Waynesboro officially becomes a member of the Shenandoah District for the 2021-22 school year.

The Virginia High School League alignment committee voted 22-0 on Thursday to approve Waynesboro’s move out of the Valley District.

With Waynesboro joining the Shenandoah District, all five Augusta County schools and Staunton will be in the same district for the first time.

The seven-team district will have four Class 3 schools (Fort Defiance, Staunton, Waynesboro, Wilson Memorial); two Class 2 schools (Buffalo Gap, Stuarts Draft); and one Class 1 (Riverheads).

“The process to change started before I got here,” Waynesboro first-year athletic director Jeremiah Major said. “There was a lot of discussion in moving when Fort Defiance left the Valley for the Shenandoah.”

Major said there was some push back on the wisdom of switching in the middle of the four-year cycle.

“But everyone on the Shenandoah wants to work with the Valley in trying to make the scheduling as easy as possible,” he said. “We want to make sure we keep the rivalries. Who knows if there will be travel restrictions moving forward [because of COVID-19]. Our main goal is to have a good working relationship with the Valley for non-district scheduling.”

Major also pointed out that the district competition will be closer to home in the Shenandoah District with the longest trip being to Buffalo Gap.

“It will cut down travel for everyone involved, especially our fans,” he said.

In order to keep the football scheduling simplified, Waynesboro will front load with its six district games first and then play the four non-district contest at the end for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The Little Giants are keeping Broadway, Rockbridge County, Spotswood and Turner Ashby on the schedule. Class 5 Harrisonburg is the only team being dropped.

Also approved Thursday was Staunton’s move up to Class 3 and into Region 3C starting in 2021-22. The Storm have been the biggest Class 2 school in the state, but with the switch becomes the smallest in Class 3. Staunton missed staying under the five percent threshold (769 students), which would have allowed it to remain Class 2, by three students.

In another vote involving an Augusta County school, Buffalo Gap’s request to play down a classification to Class 1 was denied by a 19-3 margin. Gap was only two students over the 474 cutoff for Class 1.

“The alignment committee did not find an adequate reason for us to move down,” Gap athletic director Andrew Grove said. “Our school numbers having been declining and future projections continue to show a declining population out here. Our area is not growing with young families.”

Grove said the school has shown no growth since 2007 and has lost 24 percent of its student enrollment since then.

The school can re-submit or modify the appeal by Aug. 12, which Grove said they plan to do.

“We will appeal and make our best effort,” he said. “Hopefully the next committee will side with us.”

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