by Max Brantley
A high school athletic rivalry that has been marked by many incidents over the years is the apparent explanation for expensive spray paint vandalism to Catholic High's new football field last weekend. The message left there mentioned the score of Catholic's recent defeat by Central High, as well as a crude reference to the revered former Catholic High leader Father George Tribou. A Central High student has apparently now confessed.
Catholic High Principal Steve Straessle has sent this e-mail:
We are pleased to announce that the individual who spray painted the Catholic High football field has turned himself in and is taking full responsibility for his actions. The culprit is a 16 year-old male from a neighboring school who created a terrible act out of an otherwise great and storied school rivalry.
Catholic High is following through with its statement that it would not prosecute if the individual turned himself in prior to Friday.
However, the individual faces several consequences as determined by the Catholic High School administration:
* He will make full restitution for repair of the field.
* He will give back to the community he took from by performing community service in the form of manual labor on the Catholic High campus.
* He will write a 5-page essay about Fr. Tribou. The essay will be graded by the Catholic High English department.
* If the boy receives anything below an A, the boy will re-write the essay and include an oral presentation as well.
One of the primary goals of Catholic High is to provide an avenue of redemption when boys go astray. Certainly, there are some strong feelings relative to this act of vandalism but none of those feelings supersede the fact that every boy, when possible, should be given the opportunity to recognize his fault, to apologize, to make amends, and, ultimately, to move on as a better young man. Once this young man fulfills the above stipulations, Catholic High will be satisfied and will move on as well. In the end, the young man did the right thing in the face of much public scrutiny and we wish to underscore the fact that there is never — never — a bad time to do the right thing.
We sincerely appreciate the administration of Central High School and their student body for their support and kindness throughout this event.
Catholic had offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to identification of the person responsible. KTHV had this report earlier with film.
Straessle tells me the turf installation crew was still at the school and believed the damage might be removed by chemicals and brushing, putting the cost in the hundreds, rather than thousands of dollars. But turf might have to be replaced if a "shadow" of the marking is left. He said the youth who turned himself in was a top student at Central and had apologized profusely to school officials, including to the priest who succeeded Tribou as school leader. Straessle said the school learned of the confession through a call this morning from the boy's father, distraught about the news. "We're moving on," Straessle said. "We don't hold grudges." The boy's identity has become known to students at the school and elsewhere but Straessle said the Catholic student body has been informed that no mistreatment of him will be tolerated as he works off his transgression.