Community generosity helps Regis Catholic Schools update its facilities
Over the past 70 years, thousands of students have walked the halls of the flagship Regis campus in Eau Claire. This school year, the middle and high school students attending Regis Catholic Schools were treated to an impressive upgrade.
The current building of Regis Middle School and Regis High School was completed in 1953. But over time the facility, particularly the second floor, began to show signs of aging. To address this issue, the Regis Catholic Schools Foundation took the initiative of starting a major renovation project.
“This project was a collaborative response by our school administration and the Regis Catholic Schools Foundation to provide our students with the best educational setting possible,” said President Paul Pedersen, ’89. “The second floor of the Regis campus primarily houses our middle school classrooms but also some high school classrooms, our student resource areas and the school library. No renovations of this magnitude have been completed since the construction of the Regis campus back in the 1950s.”
In June 2023, the renovation process began after receiving support from Father James Kurzynski and the priests within the Eau Claire Deanery. To start the renovation, students and staff worked together to empty the entire second floor of the building. Area crews and community partners then got to work upgrading almost every aspect of the space, which included removing asbestos, replacing flooring, painting the walls, upgrading ceilings and lighting, adding new energy-efficient window coverings and installing new lockers for the middle school students.
“We had to get creative with certain aspects of the project due to the age of the building,” President Pedersen said. “A lot of credit goes to Hoeft Builders, Inc. for taking the lead and making it all happen.”
“Comfortable, bright and clean classrooms improve student focus and concentration. These upgrades also create a sense of pride and belonging that positively impacts the school’s culture.”
While these changes are physical, Regis Middle School and Regis High School Principal Christi Machler knows they will ultimately lead to a better learning experience for the system’s current and future students.
The Blessing of Generous Donors
“An updated school facility provides a conducive environment for learning and can improve morale among students and staff,” Machler said. “Comfortable, bright and clean classrooms improve student focus and concentration. These upgrades also create a sense of pride and belonging that positively impacts the school’s culture.”
As with many projects across the Diocese of La Crosse, the upgrade at this system school would not have been possible without the generous support of donors who value the importance of a Catholic education.
“The Regis Catholic Schools Foundation is comprised of a dedicated board of nine members whose mission is to establish and grow a sustainable fund that flourishes through investments and the support of our donors,” said Mark Beckfield, president of the Regis Catholic Schools Foundation. “We collaborate closely with school leaders to address the system’s most pressing needs both today and in the future, and this project is a great example of that strong partnership.”
“We are immensely grateful to everyone who came forward and supported this project,” added Jackie Bachmeier, the Regis Catholic Schools Foundation advancement director. “Our donors are the lifeblood of our schools, and it is because of their generosity that we can undertake projects like this and more.”
Regis Catholic Schools is especially grateful to Dr. Todd and Tammie Hehli for offering a $250,000 matching grant to support the project. The couple may not be Regis High School graduates, but their connection to Catholic education runs deep.
Both sets of Dr. Hehli’s grandparents attended St. Patrick High School; his parents graduated from Regis High School in 1960, and his children, Emily and Steven, graduated from Regis in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Dr. Hehli serves on the Regis Catholic Schools Foundation board, driven by his deep commitment to the school’s current and future generations of Ramblers.
Dr. Hehli remarked on the project, saying, “We are pleased with the success of this initiative, all thanks to the support of those who rallied behind it and contributed to the advancement of Regis Catholic Schools. It is wonderful to be part of a community that values the outstanding faith-based education offered at Regis Catholic Schools.”
In mid-September, Regis Catholic Schools gathered project supporters, current families, and area priests for a blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the school’s continued focus on faith and academic excellence.”We are so happy to see our students, staff, families and supporters respond to this project enthusiastically and positively,” Principal Machler said. “We truly are blessed to have such generous donors who support our mission.”
A Tangible Commitment to Catholic Education
Regis High School junior Anthony Wesner took part in the special ceremony and says he and his fellow classmates appreciate what the Regis Catholic Schools community and supporters have made possible for the next generation of students. “I have no doubt these improvements will make the learning environment on the second floor of my school even better than before,” Wesner said.
“We are delighted with the results,” added Beckfield, “We firmly believe that this was a significant stride in ensuring the continued success of Regis Catholic Schools and Catholic education in the Eau Claire area. “Father Kurzynski added that he sees this project as not only a newly renovated space for students on the Regis campus but as a statement of commitment to Catholic education.
“At a time of history when we are constantly hearing narratives of fear about the future of the Catholic Church and Catholic schools, this project sends a clear message to the Eau Claire community that Regis is here to stay,” Father Kurzynski said. “Regis has a long tradition of being a positive influence in the Chippewa Valley and will continue to do so for years to come.”
Story and Photography by Meghan Kulig
Communications Director for Regis Catholic Schools
Published in the January/February 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine