STAYTON — Anna Boedigheimer was digging around in her purse one day and found a bottle of fake blood. A few months later, she discovered a fake engagement ring she’d forgotten was in there. These are just a couple of the moments that have brought laughter to her time as the theater teacher at Regis High School.

“We laugh a lot,” said Boedigheimer. Exploring creativity with her students is a highlight. “I love that there’s no right or wrong answer necessarily.”

Being a multidisciplinary artform, there are several ways for students to get involved — from acting on stage, to creating the sets to running the lights and the sound.

“There’s something for everybody,” said Boedigheimer, smiling.

When the Salem native started out teaching theater at Regis, there were 10 kids in her fall play. That was 12 years ago. Now, roughly a third of the student body participates in the theater program.

“It’s not uncommon for us to have the football star singing and dancing on stage,” said Boedigheimer.

Katie Koenig has known Boedigheimer as a co-worker, as a volunteer, as a friend and as a mom.

“The Regis St. Mary community is blessed to have Anna,” said Koenig.

Boedigheimer “cares for each and every student on an individual level and sees their potential even when they can’t.”

“I think it speaks volumes of Anna when you look at the small size of our school and the incredible number of our students who participate in the drama program,” she added.

“She is able to bring together athletes, introverts, artists, scholars, actors and everyone in between to create these absolutely fantastic productions,” said Koenig. “Her students stay in touch with her beyond high school because she makes an impact on them that lasts forever.”

Gina Keudell, office manager at Regis, called Boedingheimer the Pied Piper of the school.

“She can have 80%of the school in her plays or musical without even trying,” said Keudell. “She has an amazing way of bringing a diverse group of students and turning them into a strong loyal group.”

The ability to unite different students gives teens the opportunity to bond with and get to know peers they wouldn’t typically get to know.

“She just makes it fun,” Keudell said.

“Anna truly is a beautiful and positive force,” said Koenig.

Boedigheimer grew up at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Salem. She loved theater and started an after-school theater program for fifth graders at Washington Elementary in Salem after she graduated from high school. She was eventually asked to start a theater program at Abiqua Academy and ran both programs while going to Chemeketa College and working full time as an instructional aide. Boedigheimer decided she needed to get a teaching degree and so started at Marylhurst, where she finished her degree. After working full time at Abiqua for some time, she was invited to apply for the theater position at Regis High School.

“I always wanted to work with high school students so I decided to take the job,” she said.

It’s since become a family affair. Boedigheimer’s father coaches at Regis and her nieces and nephews have gone to school there.

Boedigheimer not only teaches theater full time, she also is the activities director, teaches student media, leadership and communication, and family and consumer sciences.

The pandemic hasn’t slowed Boedigheimer down. The spring show, “Godspell Jr.,” proved a success in getting students socially distanced on stage and required little hair and makeup. The musical, said the drama teacher, lends itself well to livestreaming.

“The kids are really enjoying it,” she said.

There are so many elements to teaching theater, but, for Boedigheimer, the best moments are the aha moments — those times when the student realizes he or she is standing on stage, thinking critically and communicating well with others.

It’s not a moment driven by character work or wanting to be an actor one day. It’s a moment of realization — “this will matter for me 20 years down the road,” said Boedigheimer.