Principal Marty Straub reflects on tenure at Hays High

By Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
Marty Straub is finishing out his tenure at Hays High School, where he has been since 1994, first as assistant principal then as principal since 2013. He will become Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel's athletic director next school year. [File photo/submitted]

Marty Straub’s career in education has come full circle.

Straub, who announced his retirement as principal at Hays High School last month, will be returning to Wichita’s Kapaun-Mt. Carmel as athletic director next school year. He started out at the Catholic school in 1984, teaching social studies and coaching as an assistant in football, wrestling and track and field.

The opportunity at Kapaun came just days after Straub announced he was not coming back to HHS, where he has been since 1994, first as assistant principal then as principal since 2013. He will be close to one of his three daughters and two grandchildren in the move to Wichita. Straub’s wife, Mary, a reading specialist at Roosevelt Elementary School, also will retire after 37 years of teaching.

“The timing of this whole thing, we honestly know God has given us direction in our life now, supposed to be closer to our family,” Marty Straub said. “I didn’t know I was going to work in schools; it just seemed a good fit for me and a good fit for them, also.”

Straub’s contract with USD 489 lasts through the end of June and he starts at Kapaun July 1. Straub’s last public act will be at HHS graduation, which will be 1:30 p.m., Sunday, May 23, at Fort Hays State University’s Gross Memorial Coliseum.

“I’m proud of our kids, I’m proud of our staff, I’m proud of the Hays community to have such a good school system,” Straub said. “Emotionally, I think that it will be a hard day for me.”

Russell High School principal Shawn Henderson was hired last month to be the new principal at Hays High. Straub said that as HHS principal his focus was on everything, but added that the failure to pass a bond issue weighed heavily on him. He noted that 26 percent of USD 489 parents voted the last time a bond issue came up.

“That’s been heavy on my heart and mind,” Straub said. “I really believe if our district can get our parents to somehow buy in, there will be votes to pass a wonderful bond issue for 489.

“Our facilities are so far behind other districts that we compete against,” he added. “I hope and pray for the next generation of parents and kids, 489 is able to pass a bond issue.”

Competition also is uppermost in Straub’s mind as athletic director at Kapaun. The school already hired Weston Schartz, who enjoyed success at Wichita West and Wichita Northwest. He completed his first season as the school’s football coach last fall, finishing 8-2. Last month, another legendary coach, Steve Eck, was hired by Kapaun to coach boys’ basketball. Eck returns to the City League after 12 successful years at Hutchinson Community College.

“I think winning is important,” Straub said. “I don’t think it’s the only thing, but I think everyone in life is going to lose, so we might as well work hard and let kids experience winning, too.”

Straub was proud of HHS students and staff for following the necessary measures to allow in-person instruction and activities this school year, coming off last year’s truncated academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Straub said at one point this school year HHS had about 100 students and staff under quarantine. That number has been reduced to zero, without a positive case for the last nine weeks.

“What’s cool about it, our kids did not want to end the school year like last year, either,” Straub said. “The least fulfilling of our lives in education was last year, when we had to send the kids home and they didn’t come back. That would have been a terrible year to retire.”

Straub said this year’s senior class, which will walk across the stage at GMC next Sunday, will receive about $1.5 million in awards and scholarships.

“We’re going to finish strong,” Straub said.