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‘Horrified’: Catholic students in Maryland learn about coach’s ties to white nationalists

Chip Somodevilla | GettyImages North America | AFP

This gave me a jolt: the school in question is the alma mater of both my sister and my wife.

From The Washington Post:

Students at an all-girls Catholic high school in Maryland discovered another side to one of their former coaches last week: Gregory Conte, who had also worked as a substitute teacher, maintained strong ties to white nationalists who rallied last summer in Charlottesville.

The Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington fired Conte in October. But Conte’s role in the classroom and on the playing field have come to wider attention in recent days as students made the connection on social media, the school emailed families and a string of news reports was published.

Kathleen Ryan Prebble, the school’s president, said in an interview Wednesday that Conte started coaching at Holy Cross in 2014 and later began working as a substitute teacher. He used an alternate name — Gregory Ritter — in his political activities, and the school was unaware, she said.

That changed in late October, when the school received anonymous emails. Prebble said she spoke with Conte, who confirmed his alt-right activities — which, because they conflict with the school’s mission as a Christ-centered community that values diversity, led to Conte’s dismissal.

“He never showed that side to us,” said Prebble, who dismissed him immediately but did not send a letter then because she considered it an employment issue.

On Friday, Prebble met with students to discuss the issue, describing their reaction as “quite horrified.” More than 40 percent identify as students of color.

She said she emphasized to students that “this was not about conservative versus liberal values. This was about extremism and this was about hate — that’s what the alt-right is about. And that this obviously was in direct opposition to our school.”

Conte, 29, said in an interview Wednesday he enjoyed working at the college-preparatory school of 470 students — where he had served as junior varsity field hockey coach and assistant track coach — but was not surprised by his dismissal. “I knew it was only a matter of time,” he said.

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Deacon Greg Kandra
The Deacon's Bench
Deacon Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. For nearly three decades, he was a writer and producer for CBS News, where he contributed to a variety of programs and was honored with every major award in broadcasting. Deacon Greg now serves as Multimedia Editor for Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA.) He and his wife live in Forest Hills, New York.
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