As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind-
– Emily Dickinson/ Poem 1129
Watching over decades of football wars and school crises has taught me important lessons in life. If you are satisfied with your position then you are already dead and if you think yourself important you are correct in that assumption if you only count yourself.
As a youngster, numbers and statistics always fascinated me. How many, what kind, how old, how young, etc. etc.
Populations and associated factors of probability and statistics tantalized me through college. As a math challenged person I cringed at algebra and trig through high school and college.
Yet the pages of statistics and functions in college sucked me into a vampirism grasp with the ease of a baby and his bottle. The numbers do not lie! Give me the numbers and you can open the mysteries of the universe.
God Almighty used numbers when he laid out the corners of the universe and placed the stars in the sky. God’s quantum physics calculated the size of the star and its gravity. The nuclear fires that raged within; how long the star would burn and how big of an explosion the star produced at its death.
It’s all in the numbers. The numbers tell the tale of success or failure. And the latest numbers from the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) aren’t good for the Albany schools.
From Big to Small and Smaller
Back in the 1970s, Dougherty High was one of the state’s largest high schools and Westover wasn’t far behind. Albany High and Monroe were respectable compared to other schools in the state in terms of enrollment.
In 2009, the numbers tell a different story. Dougherty has dropped from being one of Georgia’s largest high schools to No. 260 on the list of schools in the latest enrollment rankings. Dougherty counts only 885 students in grades 9-12.
In the 1981 classification, Dougherty had 1,476 students in grades 10-12. If the ninth grade had been added to that count, the school would have counted nearly 2,000 students. You can see where Dougherty’s enrollment is heading and down, down, down is the trend.
The county had four public high schools in those days and still has four today, so new schools are dividing the enrollment. A count of four high schools totaled 5,531 students in the high schools in 1981 and 4,050 in 2009. That’s a loss of more than 1,500 students.
Enrollment drops and fewer students mean smaller schools, fewer faculties and less chance for better faculty with specialized background. It also means sports programs suffer from losses of the number of playing athletes.
It’s Not Only in Albany
Valdosta High was dropped from AAAAA down to AAAA for the first time, but the school board there is appealing for the Wildcats to stay in AAAAA sports. Three Warner Robins schools – Northside, Warner Robins and Houston County – are all dropping into AAAA from AAAAA because a new high school (Veterans High) opens in 2010 and will ease crowding at the other three schools.
Americus-Sumter drops to AAA while Westside-Macon also moves down to AAA from AAAA. Worth County stays in AAA, but has only six schools separating them from AA, beginning with Pike County with 1,014 students.
The numbers for the smallest classification, A, start at Bremen High with 522 students. North Georgia high schools are growing so large it skews the numbers all across the GHSA classifications lists. Thirty years ago, half the schools in Class A would have been in AA and half the Class AA schools today would have been AAA 30 years ago.
Private Schools Dominate GHSA Class A
Georgia Independent Schools Association (GISA) schools are flocking to the GHSA every year. Deerfield-Windsor is a longtime GISA member, but they will lose some common opponents this year as both First Presbyterian of Macon and George Walton move to the GHSA. Strong Rock Academy (Sherwood Christian played them this year) also moves to the GHSA, along with Pinecrest Academy – another Deerfield-Windsor opponent.
Deerfield-Windsor and Sherwood Christian may also find themselves looking for GHSA membership in the future as they run out of opponents on the athletic fields. The real shame is that Deerfield and Sherwood are getting to the point of being able to compete with most of the schools in the GHSA in Class A, where they would be classified.
Deerfield is already in the top 20 percent of GHSA in my humble opinion. I have seen the other teams in class A and I really stand behind my opinion on that subject.
Many Class A schools carry less than 30 football players on their squads and D-W carried more than 50 on their team this year. They have the depth and talent and the ability to draw the talent to make them competitive in the GHSA. Sherwood is also on their way to the same level in the future.
By: Sonny Lofton. Albany natve Sonny Lofton is a veteran broadcaster and writer. He co-hosts the “Frank and Sonny” show from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thurday on WWVO The Voice FM-90.7.