Valentine’s Day vibes are in the air

Mackenna Briggs, Focus Editor


Ron Thruelsen is known here at Liberty as a laid-back, loveable math teacher. But back in high school Thruelsen had a reputation.

“I had some really good dates and I got the reputation of being the guy to go out with,” Thruelsen said.

His favorite scenes: nightclubs in Hollywood where dancing, alcohol and loud music were plentiful, and concerts of “the greats”, including Jimmy Hendrix, The Who and The Rolling Stones.

It wasn’t until Thruelsen went to college that he found he wanted something different for himself.

“I dated so much in high school that I was burnt out on it and wanted a serious relationship,” Thruelsen said.

So after a year-long break from school after high school, Thruelsen decided to pursue that serious relationship. He called up an old girlfriend hoping to get in touch, but it turned out she was getting married. In attending the wedding, he met his future wife – the sister of the bride, and the woman he sat next to in his high school English class.

They didn’t date for very long. They had a “whirlwind romantic summer,” and then got married after an engagement of five weeks.

“Forty-two years. It’s amazing to me. She’s really an amazing girl,” Thruelsen said, with a content smile, remembering the years gone by. “It’s been a lot of fun.”



Math teacher Thomas Kennedy has exactly three date options in his repertoire: dinner, a movie, and if he’s really lazy, coffee.

“I’m not a romantic,” Kennedy said.

So, his most interesting date had to be the time he went for a walk in the park and did some kayaking.

“Yes,” Kennedy said, trying to recall. “There were kayaks.”

Sadly, it didn’t work out with that girl, because she didn’t want to be in the sun anymore.

“That was just a big turn off,” Kennedy said.



“One, two, three, four…one, two, three, four.”

Those were the words murmured by English teacher Tonja Reischl’s date to the eighth-grade formal as she tried to strike up conversation with him while they danced to the slow song “Almost Paradise.”

“Paul had clearly been coached by his mom or older sister or something like that, so he was very intentional about lining himself up,” Reischl said. “He had his hands on my shoulders, positioning himself so he was where he was supposed to be. And then he started counting, and we swayed to help keep track.”

There seems to be a theme in Reischl’s dates, for in college, a man named Dan asked her out. It would have been a great date – great hole-in-the-wall restaurant, great food, great movie, great experience – if Dan answered her questions with more than a single word.

“He was just frozen. I’d ask, ‘So, do you have any brothers or sisters?’ His response: ‘Yep.’ I could clearly think, ‘this would be a really awesome date if he just talked! I need to be able to talk!’” Reischl said.



His sophomore year Valentine’s Day school dance was quickly approaching and young Dean of Students Casey Stookey hadn’t asked anyone. But he was in luck, for his ex-girlfriend approached him one day at lunch and asked him straight up if he wanted to go to the dance with her.

Excited, thinking his ex wanted to rekindle their relationship, he accepted her offer.

The night of the dance was upon them, and Stookey and his ex walked through the dance doors.

“We go to the dance, we get there, and I start to notice something fishy,” Stookey said. She was kind of looking around, scanning the room, not really looking at me or talking to me. Ten to fifteen minutes in, I thought that was weird.”

When Stookey came back from the bathroom, he discovered his date dancing with another guy, an upperclassman. He had been used by his ex to get to the dance so she could get together with this guy.

“So I sat there with my buddies and played it off like it was cool, like I didn’t really want to go with her anyway, like whatever – but inside, I was dying,” Stookey said.



Social studies teacher Amy Cooke was seventeen years old, and her friend decided to set her up on a blind date. She accepted, and she found that her date was not what she expected: “He was old.”

The man who the young Cooke was set up with was twenty-five years old. He had facial hair. He smoked and smelled of cigarettes. He wore a leather jacket and probably rode a motorcycle. He tried to talk to Cooke, but Cooke was angry. How could her friend do this to her?

So, naturally, the angry Cooke crossed her arms and refused to talk the rest of the night.