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Concord High Principal Connolly announces ALS diagnosis

Concord High School Principal Gene Connolly (seated) shakes hands with  Belmont High School Principal Dan Clary, who offered his congratulations after Connolly received the Charles A. Napoli Award as Secondary School Principal of the Year 2014 at the New Hampshire Association of School Principals' annual meeting at Church Landing in Meredith on Thursday, January 9, 2014. The two administrators used to work together at Concord High School.
 
(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

Concord High School Principal Gene Connolly (seated) shakes hands with Belmont High School Principal Dan Clary, who offered his congratulations after Connolly received the Charles A. Napoli Award as Secondary School Principal of the Year 2014 at the New Hampshire Association of School Principals' annual meeting at Church Landing in Meredith on Thursday, January 9, 2014. The two administrators used to work together at Concord High School. (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

Concord High School Principal Gene Connolly has been diagnosed with ALS, he said today in a letter distributed to members of the Concord educational community.

He also announced he will stay on as principal despite the recent diagnosis.

“I love my job here, and will continue to work and be a part of this great community for as long as I possibly can,” he said in the one-page letter. “I want to assure you that despite my diagnosis, I feel well and I am eager to continue our work of building a vibrant school community.”

In May, he noticed he was having difficulty pronouncing words clearly, Connolly said, and the slurring became more pronounced as graduation approached.

“For the first time in my twelve years at Concord High, I opted to keep my public speaking at a minimum at the academic award ceremonies and at graduation,” he wrote.

He consulted with specialists, including a neurologist in Concord who diagnosed him with ALS, the progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the muscles. A second neurologist in Massachusetts confirmed the diagnosis.

“I have known many of you for years, and I feel that it is important to let you know what I am dealing with and why my speech may be a bit different. I have always been honored to be a part of the Crimson Tide community, and proud of the exceptional work we do at Concord High School,” he wrote.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com)

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