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Three members, one opening day

Alain Metellus, social worker

New Utrecht HS, Brooklyn
New York Teacher

Alain Metellus
Jonathan Fickies
To be quite honest. I didn’t have a great night’s sleep the night before. I was tossing and turning. Not only was it the first day of school, but it was my first day at New Utrecht, so it was a double whammy. I was in the same District 75 school for 10 years where I went from being a para to a teacher to a dean to a social worker, so I’m used to my very small school of about a hundred kids and now you’re talking about thousands. It was probably the most anxious I’ve ever been in my life, and I’m not usually like that.

Suited and booted. I ended up getting up around 4:30 and going down the block to the gym. Then I went home and took a shower and put my suit on — suited and booted! When I put my suit on, I feel like I’m Superman in a way. I felt good about myself, looking fresh out of the dry cleaner. As soon as I walked in the building, everyone was telling me how nice I looked.

Feeling like a freshman. I spent most of the day trying to meet as many kids as possible, doing my best to make them feel comfortable and welcome. I know that feeling of coming into high school and feeling overwhelmed. I’ll be honest, there were some students who were like, “Who’s this weirdo being extra smiley while I’m trying to get to class?” You know how high school students are. I felt like a freshman. That’s why I was able to empathize with them so much. I was literally hunting down the freshmen, like: I know exactly how you feel, let’s help each other out.

Icing on the cake. I was at New Utrecht one day a week last year, and some of the students I had last year found me and visited me. They said, “Hey, look at you, you have your own office now!” They were congratulating me and wishing me luck. It really made me feel good, to have them be proud of me. That put the icing on the cake for me.

Staying in the game. It was a really hot day. Every once in a while I would go into my office and get a little A/C and wipe my head and go right back out. Like playing basketball and going back to the bench and getting a little breather and going back into the game. I had to keep my suit jacket on because I had sweat marks under my arms! I wanted to be active and I wanted to be seen. I paid for it a little bit — my feet were hurting and I was exhausted at the end of the day. I was in bed by 6:45. Literally. I’m not joking. But now I feel ready to go. Now I feel like I’ve been there for 10 years.