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Feb. 9, 2011

From late bells to wedding bells

by Natalie Rutsch, Page Editor
Ah, Montgomery Blair High School. What's more romantic than the overcrowded halls, the disappointing football games or the sweaty homecoming dances? It doesn't get much more picturesque than meeting "the one" at a table in the SAC littered with styrofoam Cup O'Noodles.

I jest. Despite all the cynics on Blair Boulevard this Valentine's Day, Blair isn't a terribly unromantic place. In fact, it fosters romance for many, including a lucky few Blazer graduates who married their high school sweethearts.

A family affair

Take Al and Joyce Schrider, class of '46 and '47, respectively. The Schriders met at Blair when Joyce was a sophomore. "I'd see him walking in the hall. He found out who I was and called me up for a date," says Joyce. Al, a football player, took Joyce to see Blair's football coach at the time, Reno Continetti, play for the University of Maryland. The first date led to many more, usually trips to the movies and maybe a stop at the Hot Shoppe, a popular fast food chain with in-car service.

The Schriders dated throughout high school, attended two proms together and eventually married in a small ceremony after Joyce graduated. "It's something we thought we were going to do all along," says Al. Today, the Schriders live in Howard County and they have 10 children, 31 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

They assemble their massive family for holidays, though Al admits it's a daunting task. "It's very difficult to get all of them together," he says. Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners draw crowds of 50 or more, spread out over multiple tables, says Al.

In addition to family gatherings, the Schriders still meet up every week with a group of high school friends for pizza. Al says, "The whole experience at Blair was enjoyable." And no wonder - Blair gave him not only life-long friends but a wife of 63 years.

Hotshot at the Hot Shoppe

Although they went to Blair two decades later, high school sweethearts Donna and George Nicholson, '67, also fell in love at the Hot Shoppe and eventually married after graduation. Donna first met George when they sat across from each other in their 10th grade Algebra class. He had just moved from Florida, and she thought his style choices, yellow or pink shirts and socks to match, made him a little more than quirky. Despite his fashion sense, Donna agreed to a date with George. To Donna's displeasure, George's mother and Greek grandmother drove the pair to the movie. Their 10th grade romance never gained wings, but in junior year they rekindled the fling. "There was just this thing," says Donna, describing her feelings in the renewed relationship.


George and Donna stayed together through high school, frequenting the Hot Shoppe, movies and dances, and cruising on Sligo Creek and Rock Creek Parkways. Favorite hangouts included the drive-in theater in Hyattsville and the Teen Club at the Nolte Rec Center. Then, in August of 1969, George and Donna eloped. They knew George's parents would insist on a wedding in the Greek church and Donna's would argue for their church, so they decided to keep it simple by eloping near Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, where George attended college at the time. In June, the Nicholsons had their first daughter, and then two years later they had a son. Today, their family lives in Leesburg, Virginia and also includes five grandchildren. Donna admits she expected to marry her high school sweetheart. "Everybody does, right?" she says with a laugh.

So whether you expect it or not, this Valentine's Day, make sure to watch who you sit next to in English or partner with in gym. You never know if a fellow Blazer could end up your husband- or bride-to-be.



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