An overdue valentine
Paul and Jennifer Powell are proof that love lost can easily be found again.
The couple, who are now happily married, met at Ellenboro Elementary School where they began dating.
"I had a crush on him well before I think he knew I existed, but it worked out," Jennifer said. "I was in the 7th grade and he was in the 8th grade. We went together through most of my 7th and half of my 8th grade year."
"It actually kind of started out because I was struggling in math. Jennifer and her mom agreed to start helping me. I would go home with them a couple of afternoons in the week and they would tutor me," Paul said. "And of course, the tutoring paid off and my math grades did pick up. From there, we just went out to eat a few times together and that is how it started."
The couple also shared a love of bowling together in a Saturday youth league.
"Bowling together is one of the best memories from those years. We were state champions in our division," Jennifer said. "We spent a lot of our time bowling. We bowled and my dad was on a league and we would go to the bowling alley and watch him."
Jennifer says another good memory was going to a Bon Jovi concert for Paul's birthday.
"They were playing at Carowinds Amphitheatre, so my parents bought us tickets, and Paul's older cousin and his girlfriend drove us. We spent the day in the amusement park, then went and rocked out at the concert," Jennifer said.
After a year and a half of dating, the couple broke up when Paul left Ellenboro and moved on to East Rutherford High School. They were not friends during their high school years and both ended up going on with their separate lives and marrying other people.
They each divorced and found each other again in 2010 through Facebook.
"On facebook you can look at your high school. Here I was adding a bunch of my friends, so I added her and we messaged each other. It just sort of clicked," Paul said. "After talking on Facebook, we decided we would go out and eat. We shared our lives and what happened in the time we were apart."
After they dated for a while, the love was rekindled and Paul decided to propose.
"Everything was clicking. I was in love, she was in love and it felt right," Paul said.
The couple got married at Big Springs Baptist Church in Hollis.
"When we dated before, he made a bet with my mom. I didn't know about this until right before we got married, but he had bet my mom $100 that one day he was going to marry me," Jennifer said.
Today, they live in Forest City. Jennifer is the guidance counselor at Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy and Paul works at Ultimate Textiles and is going back to school.
"I'm honestly happier than I have ever been. My parents, they say they can see a difference in my face. The stress from various things, they don't see that.
They are happy to see me happy," Jennifer said.
"Right now, it is a struggle. I work during the daytime and I'm going to school full time at night. I don't get much home time," Paul said. "But there are things at home that really work out well because there are things that I don't enjoy doing that she does. There are things that she doesn't like doing that I enjoy. It really works out well."
Since Jennifer works at TJCA, the couple have helped to chaperone several school dances. One of the most memorable ones was the prom of 2010.
"Since we didn't go to prom together in high school, we felt like it was our second chance prom. We got dressed up and Paul even bought me a corsage. We went out to a nice dinner in Lake Lure, made some pictures at the lake, and then went and danced the night away with the kids," Jennifer said. "I'm not sure how they feel about us being out there dancing with them, but since we were there, we thought we might as well have some fun. We're coming up on our fourth prom, but that first one will always be special."
Jennifer and Paul still occasionally go bowling and enjoy playing golf.
"I just enjoy being with her, it doesn't matter what we are doing," Paul said. "Whether it is couch time at the house or we are going out to eat, I enjoy being with her and her company."