by Jessica Easthope
The Arbitellos buzz around their Howard Beach home getting ready for work and school.
From the outside looking in, they’re a normal family starting their day, but what makes them unique is once the car doors close, they all head to the same place, Christ The King High School in Middle Village.
When they walk through these halls, Joe and Veronica aren’t mom and dad, they’re principal and vice principal.
“It was, like, surreal to me when Joey came up to me and was like, ‘Hello Mr. Arbitello,’” Joe said. “He likes to play around a little bit; he’s already in high school and we’re all in the same place.”
Ava gets to her sophomore classes and Joey is already getting a taste of the high school experience on his second day.
“I have to wake up at 6:50 now instead of like 7:30 and it’s terrible but I guess it’s fine,” Joey said. “I get to see my sister and annoy her in the halls.”
“He comes up to me in the hallways and is like ‘Ava, Ava I love you’ and I’m like leave me alone. I’m just trying to hang out with my friends and get to my classes,” Ava said. “But I still want to make sure he’s OK in school so I’m going to try my best to check up on him.”
The Arbitellos are navigating this new life of all four of them in the same place, but Christ the King has been part of their journey from the beginning. It’s where their family started.
“They were always here,” Veronica said of their children. “They were always around the students and so the fact that they’re here as students themselves it’s almost natural.”
Joe and Veronica are alums but met while teaching in the social studies department. They changed positions but stayed in the school they call a second home and raised their children here.
When Joe and Veronica have a problem to solve, it’s all business.
“His talents are different than mine,” Veronica said. “He’s very outgoing, he enjoys engaging with people. Will I say that we’ve always had these perfect wonderful conversations? No.”
“She’s so good at the administrative,” Joe said. “You need someone who’s going to tell you they don’t agree with you, and I don’t think she does it because she’s married to me but because she’s a strong person who’s very intelligent.”
They run Christ The King the way they do their own home, what Joe calls: God first.
“God first and then everything else,” Joe said. “If you do that I think you’re going to have students and children who are well adapted to the world and will make good conscious decisions.”
For the Arbitellos there’s no escaping each other at home, work, and school.
“If they offered me a job for a million dollars I wouldn’t take it,” Joe said. “I want to stay here for the four years that my kids are here. It’s going to make our bond even stronger.”