Lindsey Stevenson had no idea if it would work.
In fact she had no idea what to do.
Reaching out to the president of the college to ask for a favor, a consideration for her beloved high school principal seemed like a silly thing to do, but it was worth a shot.
“I had this small thought in my head, since his health is really diminishing, and I thought it would be really cool, since he is a Springfield College alum, if something could be presented to him,” said Stevenson. “I had no idea how to go about [asking]”
Before Dr. Mary-Beth Cooper had even heard a word from Stevenson (actually Stevenson reached out to senior class president Maggie McDonald to make the first contact) she knew who Gene Connolly was.
She knew his story.
But she had yet to learn about his impact, his passion for life and his love for Springfield College.
Gene Connolly has been the principal at Concord High School, in New Hampshire, since 2002, a place Stevenson (and many other Springfield alums for that matter) call home.
He will be ending his reign come June.
Battling with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a disease that attacks a person’s nervous system and slowly affects muscle functioning, over the past two and a half years Connolly’s physical health has gradually started to decline, taking away his voice along with many other things, leading to his decision to step down.
No matter how bad his physical conditions get, Connolly’s spirit, love and dedication to Concord High School and Springfield College have never seemed to waiver.
“He is always [at school] promoting Springfield College,” said Stevenson of Connolly who graduated from the college in 1979. “When I was looking for schools he really pushed [SC].”
“He is a person who is very humble, high spirited and a lot of fun,” said Cooper. “He is exactly what you would expect a graduate to look like. He embodies Humanics 110 percent.”
In fact, his love for Springfield is only further displayed through his daily interactions with students and staff. While addressing student athletes on Dec. 6, 2015, Connolly shared things he has learned since his ALS diagnosis.
One of the points stemmed from his days at Springfield.
Saying hello to everyone.
“While I learned many important lessons [at Springfield College] there is one I use everyday,” said Connolly at his address. “It was expected that you acknowledge everyone all of the time.”
Connolly goes on to say that he continued this tradition throughout his time at Concord High School, greeting students and faculty every morning with a hello, a smile and a wave.
“I like it because the simple, effortless task of saying hello usually brings a smile to the receivers face,’ said Connolly.
“One of the things that is so great about Springfield College is its people and all its relationships. I felt like I had to meet him,” continued Cooper.
And meet him she did.
On the 11th of February, she and Stevenson made the trek up to Concord, N.H. to present Connolly with an honorary plaque and some “Springfield College swag.”
Broadcasted on the morning announcements, Cooper honored Connolly with a citation for his outstanding devotion and dedication to the Springfield College way.
“He was completely surprised and taken aback when we walked in,” said Stevenson. “He is a very humble person and He did not even know how to express how much it meant to him.”
Many people have called Springfield College home but it is the love, dedication and passion for life that truly connects every Springfield College person. Gene Connolly is a shining example of just that.