Friendly Face: Brian Arceneaux’s friendly character recognized with Billy Streeter Award


Kaden Moubayed

Community service officer Brian Arceneaux stands in front of the Kovler Gym building where he works. Throughout the day he is busy assisting and greeting students and teachers. Mr. Arceneaux was awarded the 2022 Billy Streeter Award for Service Excellence.

Clare O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief

The doors to the Laboratory Schools gym buildings are always in motion. The Kovler doors squeak as people push in from outside. Students line up to swipe their IDs, signified by a high-pitched ping and a strip of red light flashing green. 

While students and teachers filter in and out of the space throughout the day, Brian Arceneaux, the community service officer at the gyms, remains constant. He sits at his desk facing the entrance, breaking through the ambient noise with a loud “Hey!” greeting each student. 

Mr. Arceneaux is a joyful and supportive presence in the school community, and this year, his contributions have been recognized by the school. In September, Mr. Arceneaux was awarded the 2022 Billy Streeter Award for Service Excellence, an annual award recognizing a nonteaching staff member who has exhibited excellence in supporting students. 

Mr. Arceneaux started working at the Laboratory Schools in 2018 after a 32-year career as a Chicago Public School educator, including as an education to career counselor at Von Steuben Metropolitan High School. He said receiving the award was surprising and meaningful to him. 

“I felt totally shocked. I was not expecting it,” Mr. Arceneaux said about the award. “It was one of the biggest but nicest shocks I’ve had in my life. I was never really recognized as a teacher, so it really makes me feel special that my efforts are so appreciated here even though I just feel like I’m doing my job.”

Mr. Arceneaux’s importance within the school community is inarguable. Tasked with keeping everything running smoothly, his busy days are spent assisting teachers and students when needed. During the school day, he helps write out the gym teachers’ schedules, directs lost students, gives out Band-Aids and helps solve myriad other problems. After school, Mr. Arceneaux greets the incoming student-athletes, keeps the athletic directors informed during games and helps students connect with their parents after practices or events. 

He’s one of our main supporters. You know when we think about our supporters, we think of Brian because he’s always there.”

— Yaseen Sufi

For students, the most important part of Mr. Arceneaux’s job is sometimes just his presence.

“During games, he’s really energetic, cheering us on and rooting for us. We really appreciate it,” Yaseen Sufi, a junior on the soccer team, said. “He’s one of our main supporters. You know when we think about our supporters, we think of Brian because he’s always there.”

Senior Zoe Stephens agrees with Yaseen, saying that Mr. Arceneaux’s support and kindness can really impact her day.

“Every time you walk into the gym, he will greet you by name,” Zoe said. “When you’re having a bad day, it makes a difference that he’s always grinning, he’s always optimistic. It’s important to have a friendly face in the gym because I think for a lot of students, the gym and the fitness center can seem intimidating, but we know Brian’s there and he’s going to give us a smile and ask us how we’re doing.”

Connecting with students is Mr. Arceneaux’s favorite part of his job. He said he loves watching the younger students’ excitement when connecting with older students.

“It always makes me feel good to help other people and meet other people. The students here are just nice and respectful and just wonderful people,” Mr. Arceneaux said. “That’s what I enjoy the most about being here: the quality of the people I meet and the diversity of the people I meet.”

It always makes me feel good to help other people and meet other people.”

— Brian Arceneaux

Mr. Arceneaux spends most of his time with student-athletes who practice and play in the gym facilities after school. In high school, Mr. Arceneaux wrestled and played football, so he said that he is reminded of his high school self when witnessing student-athletes bond with their teams.

This year, Mr. Arceneaux went to the boys soccer senior night for the first time. He said being invited and participating is one of his favorite memories at U-High.

“I went in there and there was just so much emotion and so much positivity,” Mr. Arceneaux said. “It really touched my heart to see the kind of love the students have for each other.”

Yaseen, who was also at senior night, appreciated that Mr. Arceneaux came. Yaseen expressed that Mr. Arceneaux has become a part of the team dynamic and that all of his teammates love Mr. Arceneaux.

Beyond the big events, Mr. Arceneaux’s smaller gestures can really affect students. Zoe recalled a small interaction she had with Mr. Arceneaux that has stuck with her, which occurred after she gave him a homemade brownie.

“I gave him a caramel brownie once, and when I saw him the next time, he was like ‘That was the best brownie I’ve ever eaten in my life,’ and it was just such a happy moment because he made sure to make me feel like it was a gift to him that he really enjoyed,” Zoe said.

Zoe feels that Mr. Arceneaux serves as a support for students when parents or teachers can feel inaccessible. She thinks it’s invaluable that Mr. Arceneaux is always available, promoting positivity and kindness every time the Kovler door opens.