Notre Dame Regional High School

Cape Girardeau, MO

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There was never a doubt in Karla and Robert Essner’s minds that their kids would go to Notre Dame Regional High School.

“It was just head and shoulders above any other choice for so many reasons: academics, spirituality, and environment,” said Karla. “It really is a community, a family. They enforced what we were trying to teach at home.”

Robert graduated from Notre Dame in 1973, and Karla has been working as an administrative assistant at the school since 2007. Their kids, Nathan, Bonnie, and Lee graduated from Notre Dame in 1999, 2000, and 2004, respectively.

In 1999, when Bonnie was a senior, a certain newly appointed principal approached Karla with the idea of a “senior tree” tradition. She was an active volunteer at the time with in the Pawprints newsletter, a publication sent to Notre Dame parents, that was in its early stages.

“It was a Brother David calling,” said Karla. “It was a way to create a lovely memory for seniors, and a way to bring the class together at Christmas time.”

Two decades later, the Senior Tree Tradition is going strong.

Robert has served on the Notre Dame Foundation Board since 1986, long before their kids were enrolled. As a C.P.A., Robert has provided the foundation with sound financial advice.

“I knew they would be going there in the future, and I wanted to build it up,” said Robert. “I thought it was a good mission, and I had the skill set.”

He currently serves as the Treasurer of the NDHS Education Fund Foundation Board of Trustees.

Over the years, the couple has been active at the high school wherever they could be of help, including Booster Club and bingo.

When it came to establishing a new school building, they both served as major gift solicitors during the first capital campaign. During the second capital campaign, Karla served alongside Dennis Vollink and Danny Essner as co-chair. Recently, Karla served as editor of the redeveloped alumni magazine.

Outside of Notre Dame, they are extremely active at their home parish of St. Augustine in Kelso. They’re both Eucharistic ministers and serve as facilitators for the FOCCUS marriage preparation program. Robert serves as a lector and is a member of the parish finance committee. Karla has been a member of the parish council and school board, worked on St.

Augustine’s confirmation program for nearly 20 years, and has served on St. Anne’s Sodality in multiple capacities.

Although sustaining Notre Dame for their own children was an important factor in their service, they always had future generations on their mind.

“The teenage years are formative years,” said Robert. “If you start them in the right direction, you’re improving society.”

Receiving an Annunciation Award was an honor the Essners did not expect. Karla suspects “It all goes back to that darn monk!”
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The NDHS Education Fund Foundation is organizing a 10-day, guided tour of England, Scotland and Wales in 2020.

ALL ARE INVITED (you do not have to be associated with Notre Dame to attend or go on the trip)! The trip,scheduled for June 18-27, 2020, will include London, York, Edinburgh Castle, Choices on Tour, Lake District, North Wales, and Stratford-upon-Avon!

The Travel Show will include detailed information about the trip itinerary, accommodations, inclusions and costs. 

To R.S.V.P. for the Travel Show on October 16 or for more information about the British Landscapes trip in general, contact 1st Class Travel, 573-651-0088 or email

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Notre Dame Regional High School took 1st place and won $10,000 in division 2 of the Pepsi Challenge with 15 lbs of caps! 

Schools were asked to collect the special edition maroon caps on all types of Pepsi MidAmerica products. Schools were divided into divisions according to their size. Each division had a $10,000 1st place prize, $5,000 2nd place prize, and $2,500 3rd place prize.

Caps were turned in at ND during Activity Week, lunches, and during ball games.  Thank you Mr. Alex Jackson for coordinating this throughout first semester.

Thank you all who helped us collect caps!

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Activity Week Results 2018

Notre Dame Regional High School Students Break School Record

Raising Over $300,000 during Activity Week

The Annual Activity Week held at Notre Dame Regional High School began on Friday, September 21st and ended on Saturday, September 29th . The purpose of Activity Week is to involve students, staff, parents and the community in raising funds to reduce the operating budget of the school.

Many activities and promotions took place including: raffles, magazine subscriptions, candy, mums, pizza, trash bags, and fruit. Monday through Thursday each class hosted a public dinner serving an average of 1,200 people each night. In addition to the all school items and public dinners classes sold a variety of class specific items and held additional fundraising events. All of these items and events came together to generate the largest Activity Week profit in the school’s history: $301,731.49!

The Senior Class of 103 students provided the largest profit per capita raising a total of $130,111.41 bringing in $1,263.22 per student. As the winners, Senior Class candidates Hank Traxel and Genevieve Kulla were crowned King and Queen at the Activity Week Dance on Saturday night.


View all the Activity Week Results



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The Pop Concert last night was phenomenal.  Congratulations to all the performers, Mrs. Seyer, Mrs. Pecord, Mr. Worley and Ms. King.

Special CONGRATULATIONS to Lily Parker and Caroline Heckemeyer, the 2018 recipients of the Bethani Vandeven Memorial Scholarship.  This scholarship is awarded to two juniors who demonstrate love of the arts, have good attendance and discipline record, and participate in Church, school, and/or civic activities.  Students submitted an application and a one-page essay on "Service".  Congratulations!

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War of the Roses

April 19, 2018
Cape Concourse Building
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

An epic battle of red & white made peace with pink. The NDHS Education Fund Foundation presents War of the Rosès, an exciting wine tasting adventure. 36 Restaurant & Bar will offer six distinct Rosè Wines from around the world each paired with a delicious appetizer. It will be a truly difficult decision to choose your favorite to win the war.

Tickets are $50. The tickets Include:
6 Rosè tastings, heavy hor d’oeuvres pairing with each rosè, wine glass, and door prize entry.


Purchase tickets
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