Matthew Gray speaks to Kiwanis about his qualifications

Roseanne McKeeJ-C Correspondent
Matthew Gray speaks to Kiwanis about his qualifications

On Jan. 21, Matthew Gray, spoke to the Kiwanis Club about his candidacy for Pawhuska School Board.

“I was born and raised here. My parents are Margo Gray and Shannon McGuire.”

A 1996 graduate of Pawhuska High School, Gray had a football scholarship to Haskell Indian Nations University. When he sustained a knee injury, his plans changed. He got married, moved to Tulsa and began working in the gaming industry.

After 12 years, he decided to return to college. He earned an associate’s degree from Coffeyville Community College. He plans to finish his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration next year from Oklahoma State University.

As he pursued higher education, he received a lot of encouragement from Pawhuska teachers.

“Coach Ratsliff and Coach Parks were huge mentors to me. I graduated 17 years ago and I would get calls from Coach DeMoss, ‘How are you doing, are you studying for your finals? If we can help, let us know.’ I’d say, ‘I’m having trouble in algebra’ and Coach Ratsliff would say, ‘No you’re not, you’re coming to my house three times a week.’ It’s those kinds of things that I remember.”

When he accepted a local position at the Osage Casinos in 2014, Gray and his wife and six children moved back to Pawhuska. Gray started to get involved in the community and decided to run for the Pawhuska School Board.

Gray has a vested interest in seeing the Pawhuska School District thrive. In addition to his own six children, he has 18 relatives enrolled in the Pawhuska school system.

“I’m very passionate about our school and I want it to thrive in our community. I love Pawhuska — I really do.”

Gray has board experience, and believes the school board position is a good way to serve his community.

“I was on the Osage Nation Policy Council for Headstart for three years. The council oversaw every Osage-run Headstart in the county. I was promoted to president and served as president for a year,” he said.

Recalling his high school years, he said, “We had things to do. We had pride in our school. Now when I go to games, there is still that pride.”

However, Gray also sees some problems that have crept in.

“When did drugs take over our town? I don’t know. It scares me to death, but I guarantee I’ll fight against it. And the bullying when did that happen?”

He said Coach Atterberry helped students who were having a conflict to settle things by going a round in the boxing ring at the school.

“That’s how we handled things. Did anyone get in trouble, no, because he made you shake hands and apologize afterwards. He taught you to be men and I think we need that kind of leadership.

“I’m proud of the teachers. I think they go above and beyond. It is a thankless position to be a teacher. … I had to do interning one time — oh my gosh! They work harder than other people. I was up until 2 or 3 in the morning making lesson plans!”

Asked about the four-day school week, Gray said, “I’m for the four-day school week. I’m for the grades going up and attendance going up.”

When asked how the switch to the four-day week would affect students, Gray said, “I think it has to do with parenting. There are programs out there. I hate to say this, but it’s time to go back to school on some of these people. … There is such a drug problem now, not just in Pawhuska but in all of Osage County. The skate park was a great idea, but now they’re trying to push drugs over there. You know, there’s got to be something to do. Is there a way we could open the old gym back up to have basketball games and pickup games?”