Battle Ground High School taps Mike Kesler for head football coach

posted Feb 23, 2017, 4:49 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Feb 23, 2017, 4:55 PM ]

battle ground high school taps mike kesler for head football coach

February 23, 2017

Battle Ground Public Schools has hired Mike Kesler to be the next head football coach of the Battle Ground High School Tigers football team, pending board approval. Kesler, the head of security for the district and a former Washington State Patrol Trooper, brings over 25 years of football coaching experience to the position.

"Mike brings a vast wealth of knowledge and experience as a football coach to Battle Ground High," said Matt Stanfill, Battle Ground High School's athletic director and an assistant principal. “Mike coaches with a great deal of heart and is dedicated to challenging our kids to be the best versions of themselves both on and off the field. We’re looking forward to building on our solid foundation, and we’re thrilled to have Mike on board as head coach.”

Kesler attended Lincoln High School in Seattle, earning all-league honors as a defensive and offensive lineman in 1975. After graduating, Kesler attended Walla Walla Community College and was named a National Junior College First Team All-American in 1977 before wrapping up his college-playing career at the University of Oregon, where he played defensive line from 1978-1980. 

"I'm excited about the opportunity I have before me, and I'm ready for the challenge,” Kesler said. “We are in the profession of encouraging, developing, and building young men of character, and it is a privilege to call yourself a coach. Our ultimate challenge is not in defeating our opponents on the field, but in continually overcoming our weaknesses and adversity to become the best we can be in all aspects of our lives.”

From 1991-2009, Kesler was a head coach and league commissioner for Clark County Youth Football. Mike also served an assistant coach at Evergreen High School from 1997-2007 and at Union High School from 2007-2016. Over this span, Mike’s teams compiled a record of 115-32, won six league championships, played in four semi-final games, two state championship games, and won the WIAA 4A state title at Evergreen High School in 2004.

Battle Ground High School is in the 4A division of the Greater St. Helens League. Kesler replaces Larry Peck, who resigned for family and personal reasons but remains a teacher at BGHS. Peck was the coach for the previous six years, and led the team to a state berth in 2015 for the first time in over two decades. 

AFJROTC cadets receive high honors at Regional Air Rifle Championships

posted Feb 23, 2017, 1:34 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Feb 23, 2017, 1:40 PM ]

AFJROTC cadets receive high honors at Regional Air Rifle Championships

February 23, 2017

 by BGHS student and AFJROTC Public Affairs cadet C/T Sgt Sandra Fachiol. Photos courtesy of parent Diane Harpe.

Cadets from the Air Force Junior Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs at Battle Ground and Prairie high schools received high honors recently at the JROTC Western Regional Air Rifle Championships in Las Vegas, including top prizes for two individual students.  More than 290 cadets from seven states representing all service branches gathered at the Cashman Center for the three-day event held Feb. 9-11.  

When all the shots were fired and the scores tallied, cadets Kaci McCrary, a senior at PHS, and Taylor Harpe, a sophomore at BGHS, captured first and second place, respectively, in the Air Force JROTC Precision rifle class. Their efforts qualified them for the All-Service National Championships to be held in Anniston, Ala. in March. The pair are the only two cadets to qualify individually from among the nearly 900 Air Force JROTC units in the nation.  

Kaci McCrary began shooting with JROTC as a freshman. As a sophomore, she competed in the Civilian Marksmanship Program national competition in Utah. Last December, USA Shooting invited her to compete at the Olympic Training Center for the Winter Open Air Gun competition.  She is now ranked as the number three shooter in the nation for Air Force JROTC. Kaci will graduate in June and is pursuing a career in international business management.

Taylor Harpe is a sophomore who began shooting competitively in Air Force JROTC last year and quickly surfaced as a natural in the sport. A member of the 2016 BGHS team that went to the Western Regionals in Utah, Harpe is now ranked as the number four shooter in the nation for Air Force JROTC. Taylor is actively pursuing academic excellence through Advanced Placement (AP) courses and aspires to attend a service academy after he graduates. 

Marksmanship is a co-curriculum activity in the Air Force JROTC portfolio, and each school hosts teams in the Sporter Class and Precision Class. The sport requires the shooter to fire at targets 10 meters away from three different positions: prone, standing (off-hand), and kneeling. While a perfect score over the course of the three target sets is 600, thousands of practice shots are fired in preparation leading up to the competition.

Photo at top right: PHS senior Kaci McCreary. Pictured at left:  BGHS sophomore Taylor Harpe

Prairie High School Drama set to perform 'Catch Me If You Can'

posted Feb 22, 2017, 4:50 PM by Joe Vajgrt

Prairie High School Drama set to perform 'Catch Me If You Can'

February 22, 2017

Prairie High School Drama will present “Catch Me If You Can” beginning March 16. Produced by special arrangement with Musical Theatre International, the play follows the adventures of Frank Abagnale Jr., a suburban kid in the early 1960s who leaves home before graduating from high school and parlays a gift for telling tall tales and forging checks into an around-the-world spree.

Based on the book by Terrance McNally and featuring a score composed by Marc McNally and Scott Wittman, PHS Drama’s show runs March 16-18 and 24-25. Performances will be at Prairie High School, 11311 NE 119th St., Vancouver. Tickets can be purchased online at and cost $6.50 for students, $8.50 for senior citizens, and $12.50 for adults. Tickets can also be purchased at the door just prior to each performance, but will cost more than tickets that are sold in advance online.  
The performance dates and times are as follows:

Thursday, March 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Friday, March 17 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 18 at 7:00 p.m.
Friday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 25 at 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m.

Battle Ground Public Schools receives $25,000 grant to support homeless students

posted Feb 16, 2017, 2:58 PM by Joe Vajgrt

battle ground public schools receives $25,000 grant to support homeless students

February 16, 2017

Battle Ground Public Schools (BGPS) has received a $25,000 grant from the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for the development of a volunteer program that will help teach resilience skills to district students faced with housing instability.

According to the National Center for Homeless Education, a student who is considered homeless (lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence) and unaccompanied (not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian) can be identified as an unaccompanied homeless youth under the McKinney-Vento Act. These are the students this program seeks to support by providing individualized, one-on-one resilience coaching from qualified volunteers. 

The resilience coaching program is a joint effort between BGPS’ Family and Community Resource Center (FCRC) and Connect Battle Ground (Connect BG), a local nonprofit that will help identify and train resilience coaches to work with the district’s unaccompanied youth.

“This program will help provide a positive trajectory for these students,” said Lydia Sanders, the district’s family resource services coordinator. “Resilience coaches will be powerful advocates for instilling hope and confidence in youth as well as assisting students with reaching specific goals they have for their lives. This will go a long way towards helping them become happy, healthy, independent adults.”  

“Building a system guided by resilience coaches will help students navigate their growth as they build confidence, said Curtis Miller, executive director of Connect BG. “Having a network of volunteer coaches who speak a common language and provide these kids with structure and support will be highly effective in helping them to establish life plans and achieve their long-term goals.”

The program is seeking volunteer resilience coaches to meet with an unaccompanied student about once per week. Volunteers will receive training before being assigned to and meeting with a student. Ongoing training will also be provided. Sanders and Miller say that coaches should be prepared to volunteer about 10-12 hours per month for training, and meeting and communicating with a student.

“Volunteering to be a resilience coach is probably the most effective, hands-on way to have a positive impact in our local community” Sanders said. “Over and over again, I’ve witnessed the transformative effect that just one person can have in helping a struggling student simply by being a positive role model and assisting them with organizational and life skills goals.”  

If you’re interested in becoming a resilience coach for an unaccompanied homeless youth, please contact ConnectBG at (360)399-6445 or email The BGPS Family and Community Resource Center can be reached at (360) 885-5434.

More information about the Family and Community Resource Center is available at More information about Connect BG can be found online  at

BGHS, Chief Umtuch bands enjoy success at the West Salem Jazz Festival

posted Feb 13, 2017, 4:22 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Feb 14, 2017, 3:53 PM by BGPS Web ]

bghs, chief umtuch bands enjoy success at the west salem jazz festival

February 13, 2017

Jazz Bands from Battle Ground High School and Chief Umtuch Middle School participated in the Fifth Annual West Salem High School Jazz Festival over the weekend, bringing home many awards.

The festival offers a unique format that provides participating bands with a positive experience by grouping them into comparable classifications for the competition. The high schools were organized into Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Heavy programs, while middle school bands were divided into Novice and Advanced groups. There were also competitions for Jazz Combos. Each group competed in a 30-minute period that included an on-stage clinic by one of the festival's adjudicators.

Battle Ground High School placed first overall in the "Heavy" Division; took first place in the Jazz Combo competition, and placed third in the Intermediate Division. Battle Ground High School was also awarded the Outstanding Trumpet and Outstanding Sax Section awards in the Advanced Division competitions. 

Top soloists in the High School Heavy Division were: Owen Lantz, clarinet and tenor sax; Shane Walz, alto sax; Madelyn Breaux, vocals; Riley Brown, trombone; and senior Cade O'Haver, piano, who also received the most "Outstanding Soloist" award for the entire festival! Top soloists in the High School Advanced Division were: Alex Forstrom, trumpet; Mallory Meyer, trombone; Erika Moody, baritone sax; and Ian McDougal, drums. In the High School Intermediate Division, Katelyn Vaile received a soloist award for alto sax. 

Chief Umtuch placed second overall in the Middle School Advanced Division, and soloist awards in the category were given to Dominic Mendoza, bass; Alex Forstrom, trumpet; Mallory Meyer, trombone; and Ashton Hemming, tenor sax. In the Middle School Novice Division, Chief Umtuch students Josh Ferguson, tenor sax; Laila Ronning and Sabrina Prill, alto sax; and Austin Cloke and Ann McCready, trumpet received soloist awards. 

Explore BGPS' Career and Technical Education programs at the 2017 Patron Tour

posted Feb 13, 2017, 12:09 PM by Joe Vajgrt

Explore bgps' Career and Technical education programs at the 2017 patron tour

February 13, 2017

Community members and parents of 8th graders are invited to the annual patron tour of Battle Ground Public Schools' Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes on Friday, March 3. The tour will visit three schools where visitors will see firsthand what students learn in CTE classes such as welding, culinary arts, early childhood education, video game design and agriculture. Patrons will tour CTE classes at Battle Ground and Prairie high schools as well as the Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education (CASEE). 

"Career and Technical Education classes help prepare students for the future,” said Cindy Arnold, director of CTE. “No matter whether they’re planning to enter the workforce right out of high school or continue their education in college, these classes provide our students with the necessary skills to be successful, and we look forward to sharing what they’re learning.” 

At Battle Ground Public Schools, more than 200 CTE classes are taught each semester in 36 content areas by teachers who have worked in the industry they are teaching. Many of the district's CTE programs have agreements with local community colleges that let students receive college credit for some of the high school classes.

The tour offers parents and members of the business community an inside look at the classrooms and students in action. It's a great way for parents of eighth graders to learn more about the classes and CTE programs that students in the Battle Ground Public Schools district can take at Prairie and Battle Ground high schools.

The Career and Technical Education Patron tour will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 3. It will begin at Battle Ground High School, continue to Prairie High School, and then end at CASEE. Transportation will be provided between campuses. Please RSVP by Feb. 23 to the CTE program by calling (360) 885-5359 or emailing

Announcing tentative makeup plan for missed days

posted Feb 8, 2017, 4:52 PM by Joe Vajgrt

Announcing tentative makeup plans for missed days

February 8, 2017

Battle Ground Public Schools has developed a plan for students to make up the school days that were missed this year due to inclement weather, and has tentatively set the last day of school for Friday, June 23. To meet Washington state's school attendance requirements, Battle Ground's plan extends the school calendar at the end of the year, eliminates some early release days, and includes a request to the state to waive some of the missed days.

The plan is tentative until approved by both the Board of Directors and the state, and could be altered if additional inclement weather impacts the school calendar. The waiver request must meet state requirements, including providing students with a minimum of 1,027 instructional hours during the year and making up a minimum of three of the missed school days. 

Specifically, the following changes have been made to the 2016-17 school calendar:

Feb. 9-10: Early release days for end of semester
March 1: Regular, full day
March 15: Regular, full day
April 19: Regular, full day
May 5: Regular, full makeup day
June 8-9: Regular, full days
June 15-16: K-8 early release days for parent-teacher conferences
June 19-20: Regular, full days
June 21: Regular, full makeup day
June 22-23: Early release makeup days

For high school seniors, the graduation dates will not change.

Battle Ground also has worked with its certificated and classified unions to create plans that will make up the missed work time for these staff members.

The district will present the plans to the board at its Feb. 13 meeting. A new calendar will be available after board approval.

BGHS student advances to state 'Poetry Out Loud' competition

posted Feb 8, 2017, 11:56 AM by Joe Vajgrt

BGHS student advances to state 'poetry out loud' competition

February 8, 2017

Laney Pham (pictured on the left in the photo to the right) of Battle Ground High School and Isabella Daltoso of Vancouver School of Arts and Academics (VSAA) were the top two finishers of the Southwest Washington Regional Poetry Out Loud contest held at Educational Service District 112 on February 6. They will advance to the state-wide competition which will be held in Tacoma on Saturday, March 4, 2017. 

The Washington State champion winner will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the national contest. The state winner's school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetrybooks. The runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. 

The Poetry Out Loud National Finals are April 25-26, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Prizes include $20,000 for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion, and $10,000 and $5,000 for the second- and third-place finalists. The fourth- to ninth-place finalists each receive $1,000. The schools of the top nine finalists each receive $500 for the purchase of poetry books. There will be one honorable mention in each of the three semifinals competitions. Those students will not advance to the finals, but will receive a $1,000 cash award and $500 school stipend. 

The regional competition, presented by ESD 112 in partnership with the Washington State Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

You can watch a video of the two poems that Laney recited at the competition, plus the announcement of her win on YouTube, or simply click the image below. Well done, Laney, and good luck at the state competition!

Join us at the 5th Annual Southwest Washington Math Challenge

posted Feb 6, 2017, 3:48 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Feb 6, 2017, 3:50 PM ]

Join us at the 5th annual southwest washington math challenge

February 6, 2017

Chief Umtuch Middle School will host the 2017 Southwest Washington Math Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Chief Umtuch Middle School. The fifth annual competition features both individual and team events for students in fifth through eighth grades.

Students compete in the Math Challenge by grade level to solve word problems and complex equations. In events such as the College Bowl, teams of three to four students work together to answer questions about geometry, division, scientific notation and more. 

Teams from all over the Battle Ground Public Schools district are participating in the challenge. Parents and spectators are welcome to watch events scheduled 9-9:20 a.m. and 11:05 a.m.-1 p.m. The event will be held at Chief Umtuch Middle School, 700 NW Ninth Ave., Battle Ground.

Connect with local employers at the Feb. 23 Industry Fair

posted Feb 6, 2017, 3:37 PM by Joe Vajgrt   [ updated Feb 6, 2017, 3:51 PM ]

connect with local employers at the feb. 23 industry fair

February 3, 2017
Students and community members are invited to learn about careers in southwest Washington at Battle Ground Public Schools' Industry Fair at Battle Ground High School on Thursday, Feb. 23. Students and community members who attend the fair will be able to learn about career paths by talking with local employers about the jobs available at their companies. Bring your resume and consider your dress, because some companies have positions open now. The event, sponsored by BGPS, WorkSource and Partners in Careers, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Battle Ground High School, 300 W. Main St., in Battle Ground. There is also a resume writing workshop from 3 to 6:30 p.m. in the school’s College and Career Center.

Many industries will be represented: health science, manufacturing, technology, construction, finance, hospitality, retail, human services and transportation; and participants will have a chance to ask about the skills, abilities, and educational requirements to work in various jobs, along with what the work environment is like and what kinds of tasks are performed in various job roles. Representatives from more than 50 businesses will be available to answer questions.

Please join us for an educational evening at Battle Ground High School about the many career opportunities in our region. Please contact career guidance specialist Kevin Doyle at (360) 885-6598 or with questions.

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