‘Once a Tiger always a Tiger’: BGHS sends off class of 2024


After a high school career that started off anything but normal, the class of 2024 at Battle Ground High School graduated in the school’s 109th commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 6, at District Stadium.

The class of 2024 graduates began their high school years learning remotely by ZOOM during the COVID-19 pandemic from fall of 2020 through the spring of 2021 in their freshmen year. After overcoming the challenges of remote learning, the high schoolers began their sophomore year with the new normal, leading to a large commencement ceremony that sent off roughly 340 Battle Ground Tigers. The graduating class chose longtime history teacher Jonas Fridriksson as their keynote speaker. Fridiksson had more to celebrate as his daughter, Skylar, also graduated and was an artist for the senior mural that was unveiled during the ceremony.

Maximiliano Garcia Lopez, just one of the 340 graduates, enjoyed the sense of community Battle Ground High School offered.

“My favorite thing about Battle Ground High School has to be the community,” Garcia Lopez said. “Like, everybody’s just so together here, and nobody’s really scared to talk to each other. And also football is a huge part. I’m continuing on. I’m going to play at the College of the Siskiyous, and I’m really excited to go play.”

Another graduate, Babatunde Ntia, will miss the people he met in Battle Ground after moving here from Kentucky.

“Missing the most is the people, for sure. They’re really welcoming when I first got down here, and I met a group of friends pretty quickly,” Ntia said, adding he will be entering trade school to become an electrician.

Charbonneau Gourde, departing principal at Battle Ground High School, spoke a lot about the perseverance of this graduating class.

“We talked a lot about perseverance tonight, and part of that is because that first year was so challenging and so hard,” Gourde said, adding, for himself, when he was a kid, learning algebra was challenging enough, but these students had to push themselves to learn it remotely, making the struggles different. “They really are a remarkable group of kids, and they’re funny, and they’re goofy, and they make coming to work fun. They’re easy to work for because they just are good people. They’re industrious, and they’re kind, and to me, kindness goes a long way.”

Gourde was emotional throughout the ceremony as he will be leaving the Tigers after six years to be an assistant principal at the school district’s other high school, Prairie. Gourde said the switch in schools and positions is merely just a way to spend more time with his family as he has two twin daughters attending high school in another district.

“The people here are incredible. It’s an amazing community,” Gourde said of Battle Ground. “I’m from a small town, and it always reminds me of that small town. Even though it is a big town, it’s just that tightly knit community. It’s a special place.”

Gourde took some extra time while people filled their seats before the ceremony to look around and cherish the “amazing community,” he said, adding he will miss it dearly.