Forty people have applied for the Haverhill High athletic director's job, left open by the departure of Garin Veris.

Haverhill High Principal Bernard Nangle is assembling a committee to review the applications.

Interim Superintendent James Scully said he hopes to have a permanent replacement well before the holiday break.

"We have a lot of strong candidates ... Before the Christmas holiday, that's what we're shooting for," Scully said.

Former Athletic Director Peter Shanahan is covering for Veris for now.

Shanahan, a 35-year veteran of the Haverhill school system, including 25 years as a teacher and 10 as athletic director, signed a one-month contract on Nov. 9 to help ease the transition between the fall and winter sports seasons.

"It's a very busy time, with the fall season closing and winter opening up," Shanahan said, adding he is "just trying to get everything updated, so the new guy doesn't come into a mess."

Veris resigned last month for personal reasons. He served as athletic director during the last school year and the first two and a half months of the current school year. He is a former New England Patriots player who has worked as recreation director for the city of Boston and as a fundraiser for colleges.

Veris resigned to organize charitable events near his hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio.

Scully said he received seven letters of interest from people willing to lead the schools' athletic programs through the transition period but felt that Shanahan was the "right person to do it."

"He's worked here before. He knows the programs," Scully said. "Most importantly, he knows the students involved. His loyalty and heart has remained with Haverhill High School athletics."

Scully said that after Shanahan verbally expressed his interest, Scully talked with his administrative assistant, Beverly Cassano, who has worked with several Haverhill superintendents.

"She's (Shanahan's) biggest lobbyist," Scully said. "She reiterated to me that he's always put students first."

Shanahan said he took the job because "I'm attached to the city," adding that he has five children who went through Haverhill schools. "I was quite willing to help out."

Shanahan won't participate in the process of hiring a new athletic director, but he knows what the review committee is looking for.

"It's a unique job," he said, adding it requires someone who is "very outgoing, able to listen to upset parents, a fundraiser, a budget man, balancing a number of balls at once."

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