Stefanie and Mike

How We Met

It was my first day of Spanish class in 2003 at Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School. I had just moved to Valley Stream from Queens a few weeks prior. Little did I know that I would be crossing paths with my future. As I walked into the classroom, I looked to my left, and seated in the first chair was a cute guy wearing a black “School of Hard Knocks” shirt with jeans and Timberlands. We smiled at each other and eventually spoke that day through mutual friends. We got to know each other more in between classes and after school as well as hanging out with our friends. We became close and definitely felt a connection but did not make it an official relationship until April 14th, 2003. It was the end of the school day; we were standing outside with our friends talking. One friend asked, “So are you guys dating?” This was not something we had talked about but it definitely felt like we were. Mike and I looked at each other, unsure of what to say until Mike finally responded, “Yes, we are!” and that made it official!

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After making things official when we were just 15-years-old (our junior high school went up to 9th grade), we ended up going to the same high school together: Valley Stream Central High School. This is where our relationship and friendship blossomed. As we came into our own during these defining and transformative years of our lives, we made the commitment to grow together. From stealing fleeting kisses by my locker to filling out college applications, our high school memories are among our sweetest ones.

How He Asked

As high school was where our love bloomed, Mike proposed to me in front of my old locker at Valley Stream Central High School on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Yes, he went through all of the trouble of getting the school’s permission and coordinating with the head custodian who would be there that weekend so that we could have access to the building. My girlfriends told me that we would be going to a wine and paint class that afternoon, and that the class would be taking place at my old high school. I didn’t find anything peculiar about that, as I knew that some of these events were, in fact, hosted in large spaces conducive to classroom settings. After the class, I was told that we would be heading out for brunch at a nearby restaurant. It was the perfect plan to get me into the school and dressed up for a day out with my girls.

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When my friends picked me up from home for our “girl’s day” I had no idea that they had just been running around and preparing for what would be the happiest moment of my life. When we got to the school, even the security guard was in on the plan. “Are you here for the paint class?” she asked. There was even a fake sign there advertising the class. When I walked in passed the security guard and into the hallway, I saw a familiar face to my right. No, it wasn’t Mike just yet. It was one of our friends, Brandon, singing and playing “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit on his guitar. One of my favorite songs. When I looked to my left, there was Mike: nervous and smiling.

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I immediately began to cry, which meant that he immediately became emotional. When I looked up, I saw an aisle of blue and white rose petals punctuated by lavender tea lights that ended in a circular formation in front of my old locker. A banner hung across the hallway, from the lockers to the opposite wall that read, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been… Marry Me?” Off to the left was a small table with a poster of our pictures from throughout the years. I was completely transported back in time with the love of my life. It was the perfect way to take the next step for our future.

After Mike got down on one knee and proposed–and I said yes!–our friend Brandon began to play “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars. Mike and I slow danced in the middle of our rose petal aisle, reveling in the fact that this was the first day of the rest of our lives after 12 years of dating.

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When we finished our dance, we left through the school’s front entrance to find our family and friends on the front steps, waiting to congratulate us as they cheered and raised celebratory banners. We then walked over to Michael’s house (just one block from the school) and had lunch and drinks with our loved ones.

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Special Thanks

Dev Mangru
Photography