To assist young men in their formation as leaders and as Men for Others through a program of rigorous college preparation in the tradition of the Society of Jesus.
Strake Jesuit is a Catholic, four-year college preparatory school for young men grades 9-12. The school was founded in 1960 by the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus, a religious order of priests and brothers also known as the Jesuits. The Jesuits bring over four and half centuries of tradition and commitment to academic excellence.
Located in southwest Houston, the school physically resembles a small college with its various buildings spread around its fifty-two-acre campus. This provides the school community with numerous outdoor grassy spaces and shaded areas for gathering and their personal enjoyment.
The current student population numbers just over 1,200. Faculty, staff, and administration total over 120 yielding a student-to-teacher ratio of 10:1. In addition, sixty-seven percent of the faculty have advanced degrees in their areas. Ninety-one percent of the student body participates in extracurricular activities directed by numerous members of the school's faculty. The student body–with fifty percent minorities–and the staff reflect the diverse character of Houston itself. To ease the burden of tuition for families, approximately eighteen percent of the student population receive assistance from a financial aid budget of $3.4 million.
On June 21, 1960, Father Michael F. Kennelly, SJ, 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. Its unique feature 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.
In 1970 the school nearly closed when it was forced into bankruptcy due to the failure of the school's bank. Fr. Michael Alchediak, SJ, the school's president at the time, worked tirelessly to keep the school running. Though he was successful, in order to regain its financial footing, several tracks of the school's original property along Bellaire and Gessner had to be sold.
Beginning the 1974 school year 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. 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. A track was also 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 building in 1998 and in 2006 it officially dedicated as The Parsley Center. In 2001, work was completed on the school's new technology building (Zinnamon Hall or 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 and the Lahart Chapel of St. Ignatius on the site of the original cafeteria.
In the summer of 2012, Jesuit was able to re-acquire a portion of its original land it lost in the 1970 bankruptcy when it purchased the property at 6500 Gessner
In 2012, Strake Jesuit completed construction of its own Retreat & Leadership Center. In addition to retreats, the Center provides a great location for other group activities. As an example, athletic teams are able to take advantage of the facility using the center as a pre-season training facility or a team using the complex over a weekend to prepare before heading into the playoffs. The secluded nature of the center is ideal for important team and leadership building as well as emphasizing that God is in our life and in all things.
The property is located is Leon County, just west I-45 near Leona, Texas, and south of Centerville. The beautiful site features rolling hills, large trees, and access to a small lake. It is an ideal setting for students and faculty to encounter God in nature and to enhance their spiritual reflection and growth.
The facilities include eight individual cabins that can each sleep 10, a Dining Hall with a full kitchen, the Fleming Conference Center with breakout rooms, the Chapel of the North American Martyrs, the Nevle Reading Room, a bunkhouse to provide housing for larger groups, the Ammons Outdoor Pavilion with basketball court, and the Fr. Joe Doyle, SJ playing field.
The Strake Jesuit graduate is approaching the threshold of young adulthood. Leaving the world of childhood behind has involved anxiety and embarrassment, and taking fearful first steps into sexual identity, independence, first love or first job. It has also involved physical, emotional, and mental development that brought out strengths, abilities, and characteristics adults and peers began to appreciate. During the four years prior to graduation he began to realize he could do some things well, sometimes very well, like playing basketball, acting, writing, doing math, fixing or driving cars, making music, or making money. There have also been failures and disappointments. Even these, however, have helped the student to move toward maturity.
Fluctuating between highs and lows of fear and confidence, love and loneliness, confusion and success, the Strake Jesuit student at graduation has negotiated during these years many of the difficulties of adolescence. On the other hand, the graduate has not reached the maturity of the college senior. During his senior year of high school, especially, he is beginning to awaken to complexity, to discover many puzzling things about the adult world. He does not understand why adults break their promises, or how the economy "works," or why there are wars, or what power is and how it ought to be used. Yet he is old enough to begin framing the questions. And so, as some of the inner turmoil of the past few years begins to settle, he looks out on the adult world with a sense of wonder, anxious to enter that world, yet still unable to make sense of it. He is more and more confident among his peers; he can more easily read the clues of the youth culture of which he is a part. Furthermore, he is independent enough to choose his response. As for the adult world, he is still a "threshold person," cautiously entering adulthood.
In describing the graduate, we chose qualities under six general categories that seem desirable not only for this threshold period but also for his adult life. These categories sum up the many aspects or areas of life most in accord with living a Christian life as an adult. Whether we conceive these qualities under the rubric of a "Man for Others" or simply as a developing Christian, they appear to be qualities that characterize the kind of person who can live an adult Christian life in the twenty-first century. By graduation the Strake Jesuit graduate is (I) Open to Growth, (II) Intellectually Competent, (III) Physically Fit, (IV) Religious, (V) Loving, and (VI) Committed to Doing Justice. All of the characteristics described are in dynamic interaction; the division into the six categories simply provides a helpful way to describe the graduate.
I. OPEN TO GROWTH
At graduation, the Strake Jesuit graduate is moving toward a greater awareness of himself and his role in the world. He has assumed ownership of his emotional, intellectual, social, physical, and religious progress within a larger community context in which he can learn as much through failure as he can through success. And while he grows to a greater sense of responsibility for himself and others, he also understands the need to be flexible, truthful, and willing to listen and respond to his neighbor. He may be a risk-taker, but he measures his opportunities within a spiritually-driven and Christ-centered context. The well-rounded Jesuit graduate is reaching out to embrace his God, his neighbor, and his world. The graduate:
♦ is beginning to understand his obligation to himself to actively pursue his own growth as a person; he is developing a desire for integrity and excellence in multiple facets of his life.
♦ in his search for growth is also learning how to accept himself, both his talents and his limitations; his participation in various levels of the school community has assisted this self-acceptance significantly.
♦ is more conscious of his feelings and how they move him, and is more free and more authentic in expressing them; at the same time he is beginning to confront his responsibilities to himself and to others to manage his compulsive or impulsive drives.
♦ is open to a variety of aesthetic experiences and continues to develop the range of his imaginative sensibilities.
♦ is becoming more flexible and open to other points of view; he recognizes how much he learns from carefully listening to his peers and other people who are close to him.
♦ is developing a habit of reflection on his experience.
♦ is beginning to seek new experiences, even those which involve some risk or the possibility of failure.
♦ is exploring career choices and how he wants to shape his life within a framework of values.
♦ is beginning to open himself to broader adult issues.
II. INTELLECTUALLY COMPETENT
At graduation, the Strake Jesuit graduate exhibits an appropriate mastery of the fundamental tools of learning and is well on his way to sharpening his intellectual skills. He enjoys learning about his world from the perspectives of the humanities, religion, and science. He sees the need for intellectual integrity. The graduate:
♦ is developing mastery of logical skills and critical thinking.
♦ is developing greater precision and a personal style in thought and expression both written and oral.
♦ is developing a curiosity to explore ideas and issues.
♦ is becoming more capable of applying what he has learned to new situations and can adjust to a variety of learning formats.
♦ is developing an organized approach to learning tasks and can present a convincing argument in a research report.
♦ is taking pride and ownership in his work and beginning to enjoy intellectual and imaginative pursuits.
♦ has begun to develop a general knowledge of central ideas, methodologies, and the systematic arrangement of a variety of intellectual disciplines of knowledge.
♦ has begun to relate current events to some of their historical antecedents and is growing in appreciation of his cultural heritage.
♦ is growing in awareness of the global nature of many current social problems and their impact on various human communities.
♦ has begun to understand some of the moral ambiguities embedded in values promoted by Western culture.
♦ is beginning to understand the rights and responsibilities of a citizen as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the structure and conduct of government in the United States.
♦ has begun to develop a repertory of images of humanity as presented in literature, biography, and history which are shaping a more compassionate and hopeful appreciation of the human community.
♦ is beginning to enjoy learning about his world from the perspectives of the humanities, religion, and science.
♦ is beginning to develop a critical consciousness by which he can better evaluate the issues facing contemporary society and the various responses to these issues.
III. PHYSICALLY FIT
At graduation, the Strake Jesuit graduate values the ideal of a sound mind in a sound body. He appreciates his physical being as a gift from God and understands the value of working toward the goal of fully developing and maintaining his physical talents. He understands the fundamentals of human physiology and physical development and the fundamentals of maintaining personal health. Finally, he values his body as a treasure that is vulnerable to depreciation and loss if he indulges in inappropriate sexual behaviors or substance abuse. The graduate:
♦ is aware of methods for maintaining personal health and hygiene.
♦ takes pride in his physical appearance.
♦ knows the fundamentals of good nutrition and practices good eating habits.
♦ knows the fundamentals of several lifetime recreational activities.
♦ participates in physical exercise on a regular basis.
♦ knows major local, national, and global health problems and some of their potential solutions.
♦ understands that physical activity helps him cope with stress and tension.
♦ understands and is able to apply basic procedures of accident prevention and emergency care.
♦ understands the biology and psychology of human sexuality.
♦ understands the value of and need for self-discipline.
♦ recognizes the potential danger of using chemical substances and acts responsibly.
At graduation, the Jesuit graduate has been part of a community that nurtures the seeds of religious faith and commitment to spiritual growth. He has received a basic knowledge of the major doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church and has had some exposure to non-Catholic and non-Christian religious traditions. He has been challenged to examine his own religious beliefs and traditions, whatever they may be, with a view to choosing his fundamental orientation toward God. By graduation, the graduate has encountered the redemptive presence of Jesus Christ through community, prayer, service to others, and the pursuit of wisdom. He responds to this encounter not merely in words but in the moral choices he makes throughout his life. The graduate:
♦ has read the Gospels and encountered the person of Christ as he is presented in the New Testament.
♦ has a basic understanding of the Church's teaching about Jesus and his redeeming mission, as well as the sacramental expression of that mission in and through the Church.
♦ has had some exposure to non-Catholic and non-Christian religious traditions.
♦ is becoming more aware of his own responsibility to explore and validate his faith and of the choices which that validation implies.
♦ has had some personal experience of God, either in private prayer, on a retreat, in liturgical prayer, or in some other moving experience; he is learning how to express himself in various methods of prayer.
♦ evaluates moral choices and works his way through moral issues with an informed conscience.
♦ has begun to appreciate how a living community and the Eucharist complement each other.
♦ is learning through his own failures of his need for healing by and reconciliation with friends, family, Church, and the Lord.
♦ is at the beginning stages of understanding the relationship between faith in Jesus and being a "man for others," one who is willing to sacrifice his own selfish interest for the welfare and good of others and has some familiarity with Church teaching on social justice.
♦ has had some satisfying experiences of serving others in need through service projects and has come to a sympathetic appreciation of their desire for respect, justice, and love.
At graduation, the Strake Jesuit graduate has begun to establish his own identity and to move beyond self-interest in human relationships. He has experienced being loved and cared for by others; in response, he has begun to respect, trust, and love God, others, and himself. These experiences have deepened his desire to find joy in companionship and service. The graduate:
♦ is learning to trust the fidelity of some friends, members of his family, and some adults of the school community.
♦ has experienced moments when God's love for him as a person began to be felt.
♦ is coming to accept and love himself as he is; he can laugh at himself now.
♦ has begun to come to grips with personal prejudices and stereotypes and communicates more easily with others, including with peers of other races, religions, nationalities, and socio-economic backgrounds.
♦ has experienced the support of various levels of community in the school, including school liturgical celebrations, and has learned to extend himself in strengthening the school community.
♦ feels more at ease and mature with persons of the opposite sex.
♦ is beginning to integrate sexuality into his whole personality.
♦ has begun to appreciate deeper personal friendships but is also learning that not all relationships are profound and long lasting.
♦ is beginning to appreciate, through service to others, the satisfaction of giving of himself.
♦ is more capable of putting himself in another person's place and understanding what he or she is feeling.
♦ is more in touch with his own feelings and capable of expressing them to close friends.
♦ is more sensitive to the beauty of the created universe and is more caring about life and the natural environment.
VI. COMMITTED TO DOING JUSTICE
At graduation, the Strake Jesuit graduate, aware of the needs of other individuals and communities, has developed a sense of compassion for the victims of injustice. He evaluates those social and economic structures through which human needs, rights, and dignities are denied. Realizing that the values of a consumer society sometimes conflict with the demands of a just society, he considers the public service aspects and impact of his career choices. Recognizing selfless service to others as more fulfilling than individual success or prosperity, he takes his place in communities as a competent, concerned, and responsible member. The graduate:
♦ is more aware of selfish attitudes and tendencies in himself which lead him to treat others unjustly, and consciously seeks to be more understanding, accepting, and generous with others.
♦ is beginning to see that his Christian faith implies a commitment to a just society.
♦ is beginning to understand the structural roots of injustice in social institutions, attitudes, and customs.
♦ has been exposed to the needs of some disadvantaged segments of the community through community service programs and has gained some empathetic understanding for their conditions of living.
♦ has reflected on his experience of working with and for others in service programs, thereby coming to know himself better and growing in his awareness of those alternatives in public policy which govern the services provided for various segments of the community.
♦ is developing both a sense of compassion for the victims of injustice and concern for those social changes which will assist them in gaining their rights and increased human dignity.
♦ has begun to reflect on public service aspects of the career he might choose to pursue.
♦ is beginning to understand some of the broader demands of community building.
♦ is beginning to understand the complexity of many social issues and the need for critical reading of diverse sources of information about them.
♦ is beginning to grasp that many social issues expand beyond the local community and in fact are national, or global in scope; in this way he is beginning to see the importance of voter influence on public policy in local, regional, national, and international arenas.
♦ is beginning to realize that the values of a consumer society are sometimes in conflict with the demands of a just society and, indeed, with the Gospel.
The Seal of Strake Jesuit is rich in symbolism. The school colors green (vert) and white (argent) predominate. The cross is the red cross of the Crusaders, symbolizing the mascot of the school. This cross was worn on the right shoulder of the person joining in a Crusade reminding the Christian knights to take up the cross and follow Christ. The Latin motto Sic Deus Vult ("God wills it so") was the battle cry of the Crusaders. The upper third of the shield bears in its center a spur star (molet) representing the Lone Star of Texas. On either side of the star is a horseshoe. These symbols were taken from the coat of arms of the Kostka family – princes of Poland. St. Stanislaus Kostka, the most illustrious member of this family and who died as a Jesuit at a young age, is the patron of the school. Above the shield is a wreath of two twisted ribbons which was worn above the knight's helmet. Above this crest wreath is the monogram of the Society of Jesus. The Greek letters IHS are the first three letters of the name of Jesus as it is spelled in Greek. This is between a Latin cross and the three nails of the passion and is encircled by a crown of thorns and a sunburst of glory.