The History of Strake Jesuit
Father Michael F. Kennelly, S.J.
On June 21, 1960, Father Michael F. Kennelly, S.J., representing the Jesuit Fathers of the New Orleans Province, received official permission from His Excellency Bishop Wendelin J. Nold to establish a college preparatory school for boys. From March of the preceding year, 1959, Father Kennelly had been aided by the Jesuit Alumni Association here in Houston in the foundation of the school.
The first freshman class of 1961-1962 opened the doors of the Haden Building (the first of the present permanent buildings and now called Cameron Hall or the 300 Building) in late September after hurricane Carla had defied all human efforts to open on time. Classes were added each year until the school had a complete four-year college preparatory curriculum with its first graduating seniors in 1965.
In 1969 the Moody Library was built. This facility currently contains over twenty-five thousand volumes in its book collection. Its unique feature, however, was the closed-circuit television system, Strake Jesuit Educational Television (SJET), which has been modernized over the years with state of the art audio and video equipment and additional studio space. SJET remained in the library until 2009 when it moved to the new Clay Student Activity Center. The 1990's brought additional technology with the addition of computer workstations for the students and the conversion of the library catalogs to electronic form.
Through the seventies Strake Jesuit attracted an increasing number of applicants. Beginning the year 1974, the student body numbered some five hundred fifty. To meet this influx, additional facilities were begun in 1973. The parking lot was finished to accommodate the large number of student vehicles. At the north end of the campus, the Johnny Keane Field House was erected to round out the athletic complex. A track was added in 1974 and was completely redone in the mid 1990's. In 1982 construction began on larger music facilities, the Lowman Theater, and an additional classroom building. The opening of the 1988 school year saw the removal of the temporary buildings and the addition of the two-story Moran Building providing needed classroom and office facilities. In the spring of 1997 construction began on an auditorium and the new Herzstein Music Facility. Work was completed on that buiding in 1998 and in 2006 it officially dedicated as The Parsley Center. In 2001, work was completed on the school's new technology building (the 800 Building), the best of its kind in the city. This building is equipped with state of the art interactive computers, and a fully computerized foreign language lab.
In January 2003, the school published Vision 2008, which laid out the plans for The Greater Glory Capital Campaign, the largest campaign of any private school in Houston history. Upon the campaign's conclusion in the summer of 2009, the school had completely re-built the athletic facilities with a new baseball field, multi-purpose stadium for football, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, and track, added four lighted tennis courts, and outdoor, heated competition pool, fieldhouse gym that included locker facilities and a state-of-the-art weight room and a new competition gym. In addition, the work under the campaign converted the old Smith Gym into the Moran Dining Hall and constructed the three-story Clay Student Activity Center on the site of the original cafeteria.
In 1974, the school began to require community service for all seniors. Not many years later, various service programs were added at the Junior and Sophomore levels as well. These programs truly reflect the mission of the school, by building Men for Others.