LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The owners of two NFL teams with ties to the same all-boys Arkansas parochial school announced Thursday they and an anonymous donor had pledged nearly $10 million to a school fundraising campaign that will pay for modernized classrooms, an updated athletic field and air conditioning.
San Francisco 49ers owner John York graduated from Little Rock's Catholic High School in 1967, and the sons of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Stephen and Jerry Jr., graduated in 1983 and 1988. Jones' son-in-law Shy Anderson graduated from Catholic High in 1981.
Principal Steve Straessle, who graduated with Jerry Jones Jr., said it's unusual for a school to have ties to two NFL team owners.
"No other high school in the country can say that," Straessle said in an interview before Jones' scheduled announcement to the school's juniors and seniors. "We not only infuse boys with a great love of sports, but we also imbue them with the creativity and the drive to not only become athletes but to become team owners."
Catholic High's campus was built in 1960. The school recently added an artificial turf sports field and all-weather track and updated its cafeteria and gymnasium. It will be fitted for air conditioning to help keep its computer equipment last longer, Straessle said.
Jones said his family's gift was a way to honor Monsignor George Tribou, a longtime principal who died in 2001.
"He was a mentor to my sons and also to me, and his commitment to educating and disciplining young men had a wonderful impact on several generations," said Jones, an Arkansas native. "His primary goals were always to build a better school while also building outstanding young men, and his legacy will be felt for as long as young men pass through these halls and feel his spirit."
York recently visited the campus and met with students.
"This capital campaign will help ensure that the same quality education and experience I received will be passed down to more generations to come," said York, co-chairman and owner of the 49ers. "Just being a part of the Catholic High history and tradition is an honor."
The installation of air conditioners does come with a cost to students. Currently, if the weather is hot and humid, classes are dismissed at 1:36 p.m. and students can attend without wearing ties. "As the building is fully-conditioned, we'll lose the reason for getting out early and not wearing ties," Straessle said.
The money is from the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Charities of Dallas and Denise and John York of San Francisco, along with the anonymous donor. Both the Jones and York families had made previous donations to the school.