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The N.C. High School Athletic Association Board of Directors on Wednesday approved East Bladen’s request to move from the 2-A classification to the 1-A classification for all sports beginning with the 2023-24 academic year. The school also will move from the Southeastern 2-A Conference to the Waccamaw 1-A/2-A Conference.

West Bladen, which did not seek a classification change, will remain in the Southeastern 2-A with Clinton, Fairmont, Midway, Red Springs and St. Pauls.

The Waccamaw Conference includes 1-A schools East Columbus, Pender and West Columbus and 2-A schools Heide Trask, South Columbus and Whiteville.

East Bladen athletics director Patty Evers and Coach Jay Raynor presented the school’s request to the NCHSAA board Tuesday.

The NCHSAA board is holding its annual winter meetings in Chapel Hill through Thursday.

East Bladen and West Bladen were placed in the Southeastern 2-A Conference beginning with the 2021-22 academic year as part of the state’s realignment that occurs every four years. Under the organization’s bylaws, a school may request reclassification in the second year of the alignment period.

According to average daily membership (ADM) figures used for the 2021-25 realignment and published by the NCHSAA, East Bladen had 585 students enrolled while West Bladen had 672.

Other ADMs for schools in the Southeastern and Waccamaw conferences were:
St. Pauls: 1,002
Clinton: 806
Fairmont: 800
Midway: 775
Red Springs: 748
South Columbus: 718
Heide Trask: 715
Whiteville: 687
Pender: 579
East Columbus: 413
West Columbus: 402