A Walk in Time: See The Photos Filling the Gaps in Regis Jesuit’s History

For Ms. Karen Wuertz, head of the Boys Division, it’s year 11 as a part of the Regis Jesuit community. Some parts of her current job are more entertaining than others, but one of the things that excites her most is exploring the long history behind the school she helps run. As Regis Jesuit alumni came back for reunions, Wuertz had a realization: many class photos from over the years were missing, lost, or damaged.

“It made me a little bit sad for a lost legacy to see all of the photos that were lost,” Mrs. Wuertz said. “People would come in and see the photos on the wall, and they’d ask for past photos, and not having those to be able to display and have that kind of consistency was kind of always driving me crazy.”

Between staff transitions and leadership changes, keeping that legacy around wasn’t always a priority. According to Mrs. Wuertz, that’s why many of the photos have gone missing.

“Some of them were framed, some were on the walls, and many of them were still sitting in storage closets,” she said.

Other class photos, according to Wuertz, are just missing. Thankfully, the school still has most of the yearbooks from the last several decades. The process takes time, but staff can copy over pictures from yearbooks to take a composite photo, find the school logo from the year they’re looking for, and design the photo in a way that makes it look like nearby years. To get all of this done, Ms. Wuertz partnered with Ms. Gretchen Kessler in the alumni office for help. Ms. Kessler has been at Regis Jesuit for 18 years, the first 15 of which she spent as principal before choosing to work more closely with the alumni office in 2018. For her, putting these photos together hasn’t just been part of the job; it’s been a pleasure.

“It’s really fun and exciting, but it’s also important. Every one of the pictures tells a story,” Kessler said.

Putting these composites together has given Kessler a unique look into the change in culture over the years. She gets to see changes in fashion trends in the school, and she begins to imagine the experiences each student had during their four years here. As an employee of the alumni office, she also gets to see the importance of keeping these pictures around for people who have already graduated.

Dating back to 1949 in the Boys Division, these photos show the progress over decades in Regis Jesuit High School. They have become a fun and heartwarming way to see the family, friends, and the legacies we are connected to. The Girls Division contains similar class photos dating back to 2004 when the Girls Divison was first founded. Current Regis Jesuit students, staff, and families can appreicate the many graduating classes that have come before them and remember those who were also proud to be a Regis Jesuit Raider. Photos by Jacob Gold ‘23

“When alumni come back, they really want to see their own class photo, and they want to reminisce about the friends they had in the photo,” Kessler said. As composite photos started coming together, it became more and more important to get them framed so that they could be displayed in the school halls. That’s when they partnered with a local Michael’s store to do some of the work. As they waited, they met Maddy Craighead, an employee at the framing department who got invested in working on photos and learning about their history. “She really just took to the photos and wanted to know stories about people that I knew in the photos,” Kessler said. “She was excited every time we brought over new composites.”

Craighead has lived in Colorado her entire life. She started working at Michael’s around a year and a half ago, and she chose to work in framing to get back in touch with art in her own life. The first batch of pictures came in during the summer of 2020, and she has been working on them since. It took some time to properly craft each image, which gave her time to explore Regis Jesuit’s history from an outside perspective.

“While we worked, we got to talk about the project and all the years they were bringing in, and we built a working relationship from there,” she said. Just like Kessler, Craighead found it interesting to see some of the cultural changes that happened over the years.

“Over time, we started looking at the names and going back and thinking about all of the different years that people would have graduated,” she said. “It was a really cool way to go back in time a little bit.” 

As the project went on, Craighead was even able to visit the school and look at the finished products on the wall. Here, she was able to see once again how the culture changed over time. “It was just a really cool project to be a part of,” Kessler said.