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Billings Central principal leaving to help parents with business
By David Jay,
BILLINGS - For the first time in more than 20 years, Billings Central Catholic High School will soon be welcoming a new principal.
Current Principal Shel Hanser recently announced he is stepping down at the end of the school year to help with his family's business, Hanser's Automotive .
He says Central has a special culture and the students say they picked up a lot of good lessons during their high school years from their principal.
"My uncle Bill, he was in the very first graduating class here," Hanser said.
Shel and his family have been at the high school since the beginning in 1943, when it was known as St. Patrick's.
There have been dozens of Hansers in the decades since, but no one has spent more time in the Billings Catholic School System than Shel.
After graduating from the University of Montana, Hanser took a teaching job at Loyola Sacred Heart High School in Missoula.
He was hired as Central's principal in 2002.
"That's a gift to be in a faith-based school," Hanser said. "We have the ability to be able to draw back and talk about what would Jesus do and how would we treat each other. It's our greatest secret to success."
It's a family-first culture that Central students and teachers have appreciated over Hanser's 21 years as principal.
"We see each other, not as peers, but as brothers and sisters," said Quentin McEvoy, a Central senior. "And I think our faith is a part of that. And he helps lead us in that. It's really inspiring."
"He always just embodies putting yourself and your family first, because it's what you need," said Abby Derbyshire, also a senior at Central. "And then obviously he has like faith before everything else."
"The biggest thing that he's passing on is integrity," said Kristin Kulaga, a Central math and economics teacher. "He really teaches the kids what's important not only as a student, but also outside the walls of Billings Central, and just how to, you know, be full of integrity in all that they do."
Now Hanser has a new calling to help his family's tow truck business.
"My parents turn 80 this summer, and my dad still goes to work every day and probably works harder than 90% of America quite honestly," Hanser said. "And I feel like I'm one person that has an opportunity to give him some peace of mind and that's really important right now."
A feeling the two of them can share.
"It's been an incredible ride," Hanser said. "It's been great."
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