Kathy Budnick, St. Cecilia health and physical education teacher, and Sue Harris, principal, beam during the Nov. 3 evening groundbreaking for the school’s new turf. The field was completed in February. (Courtesy St. Cecilia School)
Kathy Budnick, St. Cecilia health and physical education teacher, and Sue Harris, principal, beam during the Nov. 3 evening groundbreaking for the school’s new turf. The field was completed in February. (Courtesy St. Cecilia School)
BEAVERTON — Madeline Foutch loved everything about her school — the students, the teachers, the family-like community. But there was one thing missing.

“I thought it would be great to have a track and field, a place to run and play outside with classmates,” said Madeline, a seventh grader.

So three years ago the spunky student came up with a plan.

With help from her parents, Madeline created a slideshow about the benefits of a turf field and presented it to St. Cecilia Principal Sue Harris.

“It showed how staying fit can help keep students’ minds clear and then they can learn better,” Madeline said.

Fast-forward three years. Madeline is standing on a brand-new turf field as clusters of students zigzag across the green expanse. One group is tossing a football, another kicking a soccer ball. A few youths dart around aimlessly emitting gleeful hollers in the spring sunshine.

The Kathy Budnick Sports Field, named after a much-loved teacher, became a reality thanks to Madeline’s vision, along with many families donating funds, labor and time. And “a lot of people being stubborn,” laughed Bryan Bayless, who helped with fundraising. “It wasn’t just this one big donation that carried it through. It was hundreds of people who made it possible.”

The turf is located where patchy grass once grew on an old field, which “often was muddy and rough,” said Harris, who will retire this year. “We really wanted to allow students a chance to run around and get exercise, even after we’ve had the biggest downpour.”

Finished in February, the new turf is soft for falls and drains easily.

More than $75,000 was raised for the project, with the total including matching funds from Nike via school parents employed by the company. A portion came out of the school’s endowment, and Father Cary Reniva, pastor of St. Cecilia, and parishioners lent their support.

St. Cecilia parent Mike Smyth is a landscape architect who helped design the field. Flying H Construction, owned by a St. Cecilia family, donated labor.

In a sense, the project is a tribute to two longtime friends and colleagues — both nearly synonymous with St. Cecilia School. Harris and Kathy Budnick, the health and PE teacher, have known each other since they were students at La Salle Prep. Harris has been principal for 21 years; Budnick has been at the school for 31.

Budnick is “an expert at what she does,” Harris said. “She’s even-tempered, big-hearted and gets students excited about what they’re doing.”

Humor and banter regularly make an appearance in the Budnick-Harris friendship.

After Harris’ praise, Budnick responded with a smirk: “Well, you know I’m thinking about charging admission to my field.”

When she first learned the turf track and field would be named after her, Budnick said she felt “elated and moved.”

“It’s very special. It’s overwhelming.”

The space will be put to good use under its namesake.

During PE, students “run laps, play soccer, play kickball,” said Budnick.

Harris believes the field enriches not only the school but also the parish and wider Beaverton community.

“Families can come and play with their kids after Mass,” she said.

Harris didn’t want to leave her position before the project was finished “because it’s been such a labor of love,” she said. “These are the things you hope you can be a part of as an administrator.”

Madeline, watching younger students play on the turf, said she’s excited the space will delight kids for years to come.

“It’s a really good feeling to see this dream come true,” she said.