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Publish Date: 3/6/2005

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Shannon and Troy Petersen wait for their guests outside the Erie Lions Club after being married by Weld County Judge Marcelo Kopco on Saturday. Troy is a lance corporal in the Marines who returned home from Iraq to marry Shannon, his high school sweetheart.Times-Call/Lewis Geyer

School’s out for high school sweethearts
But couple manage to get married anyway


ERIE — U.S. Marine Troy Petersen returned home from Iraq to marry his high school sweetheart in the auditorium of the Erie school where they met eight years ago.

But that didn’t happen.

A St. Vrain Valley School District policy that doesn’t allow the rental of school buildings for private functions kept them from getting married at the school.

“It doesn’t matter where we have (the wedding), as long as it happens,” Petersen said.

And happen it did.

Petersen, 21, a lance corporal with the Marine Corps, and Shannon Simmons, 23, were wed Saturday at the Lions Club in Erie, a block from their alma mater.

But they wanted to have their wedding ceremony at Erie Middle/Senior High School because it’s where their story began.

In science class one day, Petersen hid a note under his desk, urging someone to respond.

“I was bored, like lots of kids are in class, so I wrote a note,” Petersen remembered.

As fate would have it, Simmons sat at the same desk later in the day and found the note.

Eventually, the two exchanged phone numbers. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Shannon wanted to get married there because it’s where we met,” Petersen said.

But when they asked for permission to bind their lives in the school’s auditorium, the couple learned of the policy against renting school buildings.

School principal Steve Payne said regardless of his desire to help the couple, he is required to heed the district’s policy.

“Policies can be changed, but this wedding is on Saturday,” Payne said last week.

School district scheduler Kristy Foster agreed: “I would be favorable to that part of the policy being reversed so people could have birthday parties and weddings, so long as a staff member was willing to work.”

Payne said he was disappointed to have to break the news to the couple.

“It was really difficult to have to tell them they couldn’t use the building,” he said. “I felt bad. I know them both and like them a lot. It was a tough one for me.”

Bobby Albright, a friend of the groom’s and a Vietnam veteran, was angrier about the situation, saying he believes it’s unfair.

Albright said he thinks the school should be rented for weddings just like it is for church services on Sundays.

“Those are very similar situations,” Foster said.

She encouraged people who want the district’s policy to be changed to voice their opinions to the school board.

Petersen, who returned home Feb. 19 after serving in Najaf, Iraq, will ship out to Camp Pendleton in California in 30 days.

Going with him will be Simmons and the couple’s newborn daughter, Cheyenne.

Petersen said he doesn’t know if he’ll be sent back to Iraq, but he believes it’s “more than likely.”

Amanda Arthur can be reached at 303-684-5215, or by e-mail at aarthur@times-call.com.
As fate would have it, Simmons sat at the same desk later in the day and found the note.

Eventually, the two exchanged phone numbers. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Shannon wanted to get married there because it’s where we met,” Petersen said.

But when they asked for permission to bind their lives in the school’s auditorium, the couple learned of the policy against renting school buildings.

School principal Steve Payne said regardless of his desire to help the couple, he is required to heed the district’s policy.

“Policies can be changed, but this wedding is on Saturday,” Payne said last week.

School district scheduler Kristy Foster agreed: “I would be favorable to that part of the policy being reversed so people could have birthday parties and weddings, so long as a staff member was willing to work.”

Payne said he was disappointed to have to break the news to the couple.

“It was really difficult to have to tell them they couldn’t use the building,” he said. “I felt bad. I know them both and like them a lot. It was a tough one for me.”

Bobby Albright, a friend of the groom’s and a Vietnam veteran, was angrier about the situation, saying he believes it’s unfair.

Albright said he thinks the school should be rented for weddings just like it is for church services on Sundays.

“Those are very similar situations,” Foster said.

She encouraged people who want the district’s policy to be changed to voice their opinions to the school board.

Petersen, who returned home Feb. 19 after serving in Najaf, Iraq, will ship out to Camp Pendleton in California in 30 days.

Going with him will be Simmons and the couple’s newborn daughter, Cheyenne.

Petersen said he doesn’t know if he’ll be sent back to Iraq, but he believes it’s “more than likely.”

Amanda Arthur can be reached at 303-684-5215, or by e-mail at aarthur@times-call.com.

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