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The Blue & Gray Press | August 25, 2019

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High School sweethearts: the good times and the hard times

High School sweethearts: the good times and the hard times


As far as relationships are concerned, there is no handbook on the “do’s and don’ts” of love. The idea of a perfect romance is drilled into the human brain with princess movies for kids and chick-flics for young adults. Chances are most people experience the first flutters of love in high school.

Typically, it is a young and immature love that fizzles out shortly and leaves only memories and lessons behind. Some high school loves, however, withstand the awkward and trying years of high school and mature into a college relationship.

Maria Dubiel and her boyfriend Jalen Brown grew up in the suburbs of Richmond. The two attended the same elementary school for a short time, and then reconnected when they entered high school. For the majority of their high school careers the two led different lives until their junior year when they met in their English class. Taking it slow, the two did not really begin their romance until the beginning of their senior year.

“My first thoughts were that he was handsome, laid back and sweet, but way too cool for me,” Dubiel said. “I never thought we would be as compatible as we are. They say opposites attract.”

Once their relationship started, it blossomed quickly, and the two became inseparable. As they continued dating, a few members of Dubiel’s family started to judge the relationship as harmful.

“Certain family members of mine didn’t agree with Jalen and I dating, as he is black and I am white,” Dubiel said. “We made it through a difficult time filled with prejudice and racism in order to make it to Mary Washington, where we have never felt anything but accepted and respected.”

Dubiel and Brown are now sophomores here at UMW, and while things at home are still difficult, Dubiel credits the trying times for her and Brown’s strength, independence and close relationship.

Sarah Balenger, a sophomore here at Mary Washington, has been in a long distance relationship with her high school sweetheart Jacob Davis for two years now. The two started dating at the end of their junior year of high school. When it came time to pick a college, both Balenger and Davis made a conscious effort to not apply to the same schools. They ended up 219 miles away with Balenger at Mary Washington and Davis at Virginia Tech.

“Long distance is hard and long distance in college is even harder,” Balenger said. “Most people feel the need to worry about their significant other out partying or even cheating, and I don’t have that with him and he doesn’t with me either. We have a great foundation of trust for each other.”

Davis is in the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech on a Naval Scholarship and consequently can’t come and go over night as he pleases, which makes visiting hard. While the time apart is hard the two have made the best out of it and look at is as “a mini deployment.”

“Assuming we’re still together after college, he’ll be commissioning to the Navy and we’ll have actual deployments where we could not see each other for months at a time,” Balenger said.

From the outside, these two couples may seem very different, but they all have their own set of complications. The struggle for Dubiel and Brown it is the hurtful racism of Dubiel’s family and Balenger and Davis the daunting distance. However, while most couples would shatter in these struggles, these couples flourish. It is their love and friendship that allows them to withstand the test of time, opinions and distance.