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Riverside Military Academy joins Lakeview Academy in decision to leave GHSA for Georgia Independent Athletics Association
Riverside Military football 2021
Riverside Military's Rodney Robinson (4) looks for a running hole against East Forsyth on Sept. 16, 2021 at Maginnis Field in Gainesville. Photo by Bill Murphy

The separation between public and private schools is complete in Hall County, at least for the immediate future. 

On Dec. 2, Riverside Military made the decision official to pull its athletics programs from the Georgia High Schools Association and join the Georgia Independent Athletics Association. 

The move came just two weeks after Lakeview Academy made the same decision. 

Riverside Military and Lakeview Academy will compete in a five-team region with Loganville Christian, George Walton Academy and Bethlehem Christian, starting in the fall of 2022, according to Riverside Military athletics director Mark DeFoor. 

According to DeFoor, one of the main draws, for the Eagles, to moving into the new GIAA is to make it more conducive for international students to be able to compete right away, after going through an eligibility clearinghouse. 

Under GHSA rules, new students, even at a boarding school, have to wait a year before becoming eligible to participate in varsity athletics. 

“We’re excited about the move and feel like it gives us a fresh start in athletics,” DeFoor said. “Our cadets are excited about the news and feel like it is the best decision for the Academy.”

Currently the GHSA is finalizing its realignment for the next two-year cycle. 

Under the new plan, private schools will take on a multiplier, for athletics purposes, three times toward enrollment for each student who lives outside the school’s district limit. 

DeFoor said that was not a factor in Riverside Military’s decision. 

Since the majority of Riverside Military’s cadets live on campus, they are considered as living in the geographic district of the school. 

The only students that the private military school in Gainesville would take on a multiplier for is those who are day cadets and live off campus, DeFoor said. 

In November, the Georgia High School Association announced reclassification that will take effect in the fall of 2022. 

After appeals, it became official that Cherokee Bluff, Chestatee, North Hall, East Hall and Johnson would be playing in Class 4A. 

The new Region 8-4A (with those five programs in Hall County) will have 11 schools, after the addition of Seckinger High, which will open in the fall in Buford.

Gainesville will move down to Class 6A, while Flowery Branch is moving up to Class 5A. 

West Hall will be the lone Class 3A program left in Hall County. 

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