In many ways, Steve Straessle’s ascension to the role of principal of Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock was a son taking over his father’s business. Straessle, who graduated from Catholic High in 1988, was one of thousands of high school boys for whom Monsignor George Tribou served as principal and second father during a nearly 40-year reign.
Straessle taught at the school from 1992-1999 and returned for good in 2001, the same year Father Tribou died. The loss of the beloved priest-administrator was felt deeply and enrollment had plunged by the time he was named principal in 2005.
Since then, the seminal institution has rebounded stronger than ever and in ways beyond just enrollment. Catholic High’s traditions and high academic expectations are on display everywhere, but the throwback tenets of discipline and achievement have not come at the expense of progress. Straessle’s unique leadership style draws from the best of the school’s heritage while fixing eyes firmly on the future.
On his watch, a multimillion-dollar capital campaign brought badly needed renovations to fruition and included a new classroom/athletic training facility. Also during his tenure, the school’s practice field was improved with all-weather turf and track that is also used by area parochial sports programs.
Nearly 30 years into his affiliation with the school, Straessle today finds he’s come full circle. Cast in the surrogate mold for his own generations of students, his is a purpose and ministry on par with his mentor.