BGA hosts in-person graduation under local health guidelines

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Battle Ground Academy held its graduation as scheduled on Saturday, May 16, celebrating the matriculation of 86 students while observing guidelines set forth by the Tennessee Department of Education and in accordance with local health guidelines. 

The ceremony, held at the school’s football field, was limited to the graduating students, their parents and a limited number of BGA’s Upper School faculty.

BGA Head of School Will Kesler recognized the uniqueness of the moment during his remarks.

“Whether you realize it or not, you have aided in keeping people safe and helping us get back to normal sooner,” he said. “Again, while no one asked your permission, I truly believe the losing of self for the good of others in a collective environment like this one will serve you well. 

“Seize this moment in history and make it your own. Make it a call to value friendship and family; make it a call to help others who are hurting and need assistance; make it a call to seek authentic connections whenever possible.”

As part of the ceremony, BGA’s valedictorian and salutatorian addressed their classmates. Katelyn Helberg, who will attend the University of Arkansas, received the Edward Tyndall Stalcup ’47 Valedictory Medal. Bailey Anderson, who will attend the University of Washington, was awarded the William H. Smith ’71 Salutatory Medal. 

Highlights of BGA’s  graduating class include:

• 81% of the class earned state funds and privately sourced scholarships, with 36% earning scholarships worth over $100,000

• 85% were accepted to their top college choices, with 95% being accepted by one of their top three choices

• Graduates will matriculate to nearly 53 different colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada

• 17 members of the class (20%) have signed letters of intent to continue to play athletics in college

“This class faced a lot of challenges in their senior year, culminating with not being able to be together over the last two months due to COVID-19,” said Jamie Griffin, head of BGA’s Upper School. “We felt it was important to provide them — and their families — with closure as a group so they can begin preparing for the next phases of their lives. We are pleased we were able to have this graduation in a safe environment and look forward to the great things this class will achieve moving forward.”

In addition to the valedictorian and salutatorian, other graduates honored included:

• Will Rieck was awarded the Pinkerton Watch, given to the senior who, in the judgment of the faculty, is the best all-around student

• Nick Semptimphelter was presented the Paul Guffee ‘61 Memorial Award, which, by a vote of the faculty, goes to the senior who exhibits leadership in athletics and all other phases of school life

• Micah Ball received the Katie Jeter ‘03 Award for Service

• Anna Baker received the BGA Alumni Association Bill Ross ’72 Award as voted by the student body for helping those in need without the need for recognition

• Katelyn Helberg was presented the Robin Leigh Altshuler Award given to the senior who exemplifies a spirit of unconditional service to others and the community

• Cole Dennis received the Durwood Sies ‘40 Leadership Award

Two faculty members were also recognized by students: Leah Handelsman received the Cannonball Yearbook Dedication, and Kate Monfils received the Golden Apple Award.

Established in 1889, Battle Ground Academy is a co-educational, college preparatory school for grades kindergarten through 12th grade. More information on the school can be found at www.battlegroundacademy.org.

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