Atlantic Collegiate Academy granted SCHSL membership by appeals panel

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 2:47 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2023 at 2:49 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County’s newest school will now also be the South Carolina High School League’s newest member.

On Wednesday, the SCHSL’s Appellate Panel approved Atlantic Collegiate Academy for at-large membership. With the vote, the Armada will not be placed in a classification until next year’s realignment. ACA athletic programs will also not be eligible for state championships during the upcoming academic year.

“All we are looking for is an opportunity for our students to have a chance to compete,” ACA Principal Mike Lorenz said in a statement. “The Appeals Committee heard what we had to say and made the correct decision regarding our application for membership in the league. I feel very fortunate with the ruling today.”

The decision comes a little more than a week after the league’s executive committee denied ACA membership.

In that decision, the executive committee argued that ACA would have a competitive advantage over other schools due to its modified schedule. That’s despite Oceanside Collegiate Academy, a school operated by the same parent company that has a similar schedule format, already being in the league.

Per its website, half of ACA students would attend classes in the morning while the others would participate in sports and other activities, work or spend time with their families. The schedules would then switch in the afternoon, with all students done with their day by 4 p.m. As a result, the school would only roughly half of its total enrollment at a time.

Lorenz spoke before the appellate panel on Wednesday, stating the school currently has a total enrollment of 326 with more than half being freshmen and sophomores. The school would also offer sports including football, basketball, golf, soccer, volleyball, wrestling and competitive cheer. Other sports would be offered based on the numbers officials receive.

When asked about practices, Lorenz stated that sports will only practice in-season and insisted they would follow SCHSL guidelines and rules.

He also said ACA’s goal is not to take athletes from other schools in the area but to instead give opportunities to those who would not normally make a team.

“We’re not out to steal athletes. That’s not the purpose. The purpose here is to 100% provide the best education and use athletics the right way,” said Lorenz.

He added that the new school is a benefit to Horry County, citing overcrowded student populations at other area schools.

“All our schools are bursting at the seams. This is a great deal for Horry County,” said Lorenz. “They don’t have to have a referendum to build a school, to educate 700 kids. This is a great opportunity for kids to play sports that would never, ever make a team.”

ACA is planned to operate out of a temporary facility at Beach Church off George Bishop Parkway in Myrtle Beach before moving into a new building on Bear Bluff Road in Conway once construction is complete.

The panel ultimately voted 3-1 to admit ACA into the league.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.