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When the time came for a new Athletic Director to take the reins of Townsend Harris’ sports program, physical education teacher Lauren Caiaccia stepped up to the plate. Ms. Caiaccia has taken over for retired physical education teacher Keith Hanson, who held the position for three years.
Ms. Caiaccia, who has worked at THHS since 2007, applied for the position of Athletic Director upon its opening. Principal Anthony Barbetta chose her to be Mr. Hanson’s successor.
“I vocally made my interest in the position known,” Ms. Caiaccia said. “Seeing the athletic program operate at a high level is something near and dear to my heart. So I know that I am willing to do all the different things that it takes to make an athletic program have great success and the student athletes have a wonderful experience.”
Since assuming the position, Ms. Caiaccia describes herself as in the “get the fall season going mode.” She aims to incorporate cues from her predecessors, Donald Altman, Wanda Nix, and Keith Hanson, in maintaining the “excellent caliber” of the school’s athletic program. Then, she will focus on making “little changes, or micro changes or big changes after having an experience going through an academic year with the whole program.”
Among her goals, Ms. Caiaccia is very adamant about spreading school spirit for the athletic program throughout the school. “I have thoughts on making sure that the Townsend Harris Hawks name is out there—a little more visible in the school community like in our weight room, in the gymnasium, in the athletic office here. And just kind of get a little more school spirit connected to our sports program,” she explained.
School spirit for the Hawks is not, in the least, unknown to Ms. Caiaccia. A member of THHS’ Class of 1992, she was a three season student-athlete in all four years of high school. During her time at THHS, as a student and teacher, she has known all three previous Athletic Directors and credits them as part of her motivation to take the position.
Ms. Caiaccia does not come unexperienced either. In addition to being a coach of the boys volleyball and girls basketball teams at THHS, she was previously the Assistant Athletic Director at Hunter College. “I have experience with scheduling and assigning officials and distribution of practice times and eligibility forms and all of those things that pretty much come with this job,” she said.
But in terms of being the Athletic Director of THHS, Ms. Caiaccia is excited for this new chapter in her career. She said, “It feels like I’m coming back to where I started, which is awesome.”