Battle Ground: A play written by Chief Umtuch Middle School drama teacher Aleks Merilo was presented in two stage readings after the work won first place in a recent playwriting competition. Merilo’s play, “Exit 27,” tied for first in the “New by Northwest” competition held by the Portland theater group CoHo Productions. Because of that success, his play was read on stage during CoHo’s Fertile Ground Festival of New Works on Jan. 27 and Feb. 2. The play is a “sobering cautionary tale” about teen boys exiled to the desert from an extreme polygamist society on the Utah-Arizona border. The play is scheduled to be performed in Houston and New York City theaters this year, according to a Battle Ground Public Schools press release. For more on Merilo’s plays visit Aleks Merilo Playwright.