Best of Battle Ground makes its debut Thursday

Talent, fashion, and fun, all for a good cause, come together at annual BGHS pageant

We do not yet know who will be crowned the Best of BG, the annual pageant show/fundraiser at Battle Ground High School.

We do know the winners, though: Everyone associated with creating the event, adapting to all the changes, ensuring that the show really will go on … even in a pandemic.

Seven seniors from Battle Ground High School will by vying for the coveted Best of BG award. The annual pageant and fundraiser had obstacles to overcome this year in the pandemic, but the show will go on ... virtually. The first of the two-part video show debuts Thursday. Photo courtesy Picture Perfect Photography
Seven seniors from Battle Ground High School will by vying for the coveted Best of BG award. The annual pageant and fundraiser had obstacles to overcome this year in the pandemic, but the show will go on … virtually. The first of the two-part video show debuts Thursday. Photo courtesy Picture Perfect Photography

“It means everything to me,” said Aubrey Carlson, a senior and one of the show’s directors. “We persevered and made this happen. I’m happy to be part of such a great thing. I love these guys. They really worked hard.”

Carlson credited all of her classmates who were part of this year’s showcase. Eight students worked on production. 

Bethany Tuchardt is the backstage manager. Her older brother participated in the event when she was an eighth grader. She has watched every show since.

“I knew I wanted to be part of it. I always looked up to everybody,” Tuchardt said. “Being part of it and actually getting to work with the contestants and our amazing directors and our awesome teacher has been such a wonderful memory.”

Seven seniors are vying for the awards as contestants. They will be judged on their talent, as well as their fashion sense in a number of areas, including formal and casual.

Oh, and there is a dance. That’s right. The contestants must dance.

Normally, this would be a stage show, in front of an audience.

This year, though, they have recorded the event and divided it into two 30-minute videos. Part one will debut at 7 p.m. Thursday on BGTV27’s YouTube Channel (Battle Ground Television). Part two goes live at 7 p.m. Friday.

More than a dozen students have been working throughout the school year to raise funds and to produce the annual Best of BG pageant. The main event debuts Thursday night. Photo courtesy Picture Perfect Photography
More than a dozen students have been working throughout the school year to raise funds and to produce the annual Best of BG pageant. The main event debuts Thursday night. Photo courtesy Picture Perfect Photography

Also new this year is the name. Formerly Mr. BG, it is now called the Best of BG, and any senior is eligible to compete for the crown.

While the event is designed to showcase talent and humor, there is a serious cause behind the program. Every year, Best of BG finds someone in need in the community.

This year, proceeds will go to a former Battle Ground teacher. Izabella Lewandowski, a member of the deaf community, used to teach American Sign Language at Battle Ground. She now teaches in the Evergreen School District. Lewandowski is battling breast cancer.

Best of BG contestants and production team members have been working on fundraising for the entire school year. The talent show is the main event.

Those who watch the show are asked to donate in the name of their favorite student contestant. The student who raises the most money earns the People’s Choice Award. Judges — this year consisting of first responders from the Battle Ground community — select the overall winner, the Best of BG.

The contestants want to win. It is a competition. But they also know they are teammates, committed to a bigger cause. 

The Best of BG winner will also be there when funds raised are presented to Lewandowski through Connect BG, a local charitable organization. (Funds from the high school cannot go directly to an individual. The high school has a great relationship with Connect BG, according to Christina Wood, a science teacher and the ASB Leadership Advisor at Battle Ground.)

The contestants have a variety of talents.

“I chose to sing a song by Avril Lavigne that I felt kind of applied to a lot of stuff that went on this year,” said Rebekah Keithley. 

The song? :Head above Water.”

While much of the contest was filmed on stage, some clips were done at home. Keithley’s performance was recorded from her room at home.

“We’ll see how it sounds,” she said.

Gage Hay held a mini-dunk contest for his talent. 

“Oh, it’s totally a 10-foot hoop, wink-wink,” Hay said.

Cole Billingsley went with impersonations of teachers and administrators at the high school. That will include Scott Yingling, an associate principal known for his dad jokes. His bad dad jokes, Billingsley says.

Ian McHenry played “Have I Told You Lately” by Van Morrison on his saxophone.

“My parents are massive Van Morrison fans,” he said. “I think I did pretty good.”

Other talents include a comedy cooking show by Foster Hidden, a stand-up routine by Charles Williamson, and Ashton Hemming played “Lover Come Back To Me” on his saxophone.

Emily Brooks and Hailey Defferding are the masters of ceremony for the event.

“We worked together to build a script that was comical and brings everyone together,” said Brooks, who acknowledged she was a little nervous going into production. 

Payton Bodily is one of the directors alongside Carlson. Miki Malone is the social media manager. Austin Cloke and Ethan Paris are the junior directors.  

All involved had to be flexible. 

Carlson said there were so many obstacles throughout the academic year, with all the COVID-19 protocols. They were told no, can’t do that, or no, can’t do this. But when they were told yes, they could try something else, everyone just went all-in to make it work.

“It’s been very difficult, but I have a great team and the contestants are amazing and willing to work hard,” Carlson said. “It’s been fun.”

Note: To donate, go to: https://wa-battleground.intouchreceipting.com/

And for instructions on how to donate for Best of BG, Christina Wood has put together a video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/13ELdH0LWqm0m3XPVBbTieC0uUJcw4W6f/view

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