New fitness room fit for Harrisites

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Over the summer, the basement weight room underwent an unexpected renovation in order to enhance the student experience during physical education. What used to be a storage closet is now home to several exercise machines, including new spin bikes.

Athletic Director and Physical Education teacher Lauren Caiaccia pushed for the renovation since Principal Brian Condon came to Townsend Harris. She first developed her vision for the project when she noticed that room B17 had a larger, open space than the old weight room, B16. B16 was split into two sections which resulted in visibility issues because teachers couldn’t always see all students during class. 

Mr. Condon approved the idea, and the project was handed off to Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee. The cost of the project was originally estimated to be $80,000. She stated, “We had to wait until we got a Reso ‘A’ Grant, and that comes through elected officials.” An elected official gave the funds to the school, which were allocated towards the School Construction Authority. The speed at which this project was completed shocked many, including Ms. Fee. The weight room was completed in nine months, with only ten days of active renovation. 

Dean and Physical Education teacher Robin Figelman believes that the change will allow for “more variety” in students’ exercises. “They won’t have to be lifting weights every single day and that spin component will be something new and exciting for them.” She added, “I don’t have the seniors run on the track. They get their cardio on those spin bikes now.”

Physical education teacher Jamal Bermudez agrees. He believes that this renovation contributes to the general betterment of the student experience, stating that we now “have more things that students would not be intimidated to use.” He said, “I feel like some of the stuff that we once had was very cumbersome and uncomfortable. What we’re moving towards will be more fun and engaging for everyone.” 

Unlike the old weight room, the new area also features the school’s colors, painted across all walls. Physical Education teacher Raymond Adamkiewicz liked this addition, which he thinks will make students more motivated. “It’s vibrant, it makes me feel like we’re all part of the Townsend Harris community,” he explained.

Junior, Xandria Crosland, a varsity player of three sports— soccer, basketball, and softball— also gave her opinion on the renovation. “Although I don’t use the room to practice in, a lot of other teams will use it, and it could serve a beneficial purpose and help us athletes and Harrisites to get more in shape.” 

Sophomore Milosh Starchevic added, “The new fitness center in the sub basement gives students new health opportunities that they did not previously have.” 

Senior Jennifer Jiang also pointed out that the new weight room “helps to relieve [her] in-school stress, as a senior, because when [she’s] working out in a better environment [she feels] emotionally confident.”

Following this renovation, Mr. Condon hopes to further more improvements throughout the school. These would include an improved sound system and new water fountains. Although these developments might not take place as rapidly as those in the new B17 weight room, they will hopefully still be implemented in the future.