By Charlotte Helston
Thirty years ago Scott Fochler took a pen and wrote his name and that of Doreen—then his girlfriend, now his wife—on the wall of the green room at Vernon Secondary School. He encircled their names in a heart.
That declaration of love is still there amidst a collage of over 50 years of graffiti. And now, as a demolition crew is preparing to crumble the old school, Fochler is trying to get that artifact of his relationship back.
"Our anniversary is May 19, I wanted to give it to her then," Fochler says. He had planned to put the chunk of tattooed plywood behind glass. "I have a specific spot on the wall where I wanted it to be hung."
But getting his hands on the plywood has been rather difficult.
"The school district has given it a complete and utter no," he says, adding they told him they were powerless now because the building has been turned over to the contractor. They told him that revealing the name of the company doing the demolition would be a breach of privacy. While InfoTel News could not reach the superintendent for school district 22, her secretary said it was out of her hands.
Fochler says he is willing to pay for the piece of plywood. But it doesn't seem to matter. The school doesn't want to set a precedent for other students also wanting a piece of memorabilia, like their old locker.
"My wife says we have a theme," Fochler says. "The school we went to is being torn down, the church we were married in burned down, and another school we went to was also torn down."
But their love has passed the test of time. "We met at 16, married at 19," Fochler says. And they've been together ever since, raising children and setting up shop in their hometown of Vernon.
They were introduced in grade 10, but it wasn't until drama class in grade 11 that Fochler got to prove to his future wife he was more than a tough guy who got into scraps.
"She hated my guts when we first met," Fochler says. His group was known as the bad boys, while Doreen was in with the goody-goodies and had her name on the honour roll.
"People didn't mess with us," Fochler says. But the streetwise kid had a thing for acting, and it was there that his tough guy persona melted a little to show the man underneath.
Over the next few months the two teens became better friends, until one day, on the bus, Doreen asked Fochler if he liked her.
"I went deer in the headlights, then just said yes," Fochler recalls.
Doreen was Fochler's one and only girlfriend, ever, but he certainly wasn't her only boyfriend. "Oh she had lots, she was fighting them back with a bat."
It was at their 30 year reunion the Fochlers saw their names imprinted on the wall of the room they spent so much time in together when they were young. An old friend from their graduating class who had become a teacher at VSS suggested they try to obtain their portion of wall.
Fochler stored the romantic idea in his back pocket, and has been trying to make it a reality ever since. While he intended it to be a surprise, once it went viral on Facebook, he had to tell her.
"I was deleting emails that would reveal it from our inbox," he says. "It was getting difficult."
And while he has impressed his wife with his romantic intentions, he's not giving up on his original purpose.
"The thought is nice, but I don't just want the thought. I want results."
Fochler isn't giving up. He wants the "heart of VSS" as he's begun calling it to find its final resting place on the wall of the home he and Doreen built together, not in a junk pile in a landfill. It's a reminder of their first days together, flirting in the green room, not trying to act cool or tough or clever, just being themselves and falling in love.
Scott and Doreen Fochler.
Image Credit: Submitted/ Scott Fochler
To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)309-5230.