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It's in the Stars

Romance. Everyone has a true love story to share, including members of the faculty. Ever wondered how English teacher Peter Nilsson courted dance instructor Crystal Nilsson? How science teacher Rich Calhoun proposed to math teacher Kate Calhoun? Or perhaps how Spanish teachers Steve Taft and Virginia Invernizzi met?

Mr. and Mrs. Nilsson met in New York on July 12, 2007, got engaged on July 12, 2008, and were married on July 12, 2009. This was evidently not just to make it easier to remember the dates.

True romantics, Mr. and Mrs. Nilsson met at Lincoln Center during a Midsummer Night Swing, when Mr. Nilsson was scoping out the dance floor and found his soon-to-be wife.

Mr. Nilsson said, “Crystal had that ‘ask-me-to-dance’ look. And so, I asked her to dance.”

While Mr. Nilsson felt he had been too straightforward and talkative, asking Mrs. Nilsson on a date to see a dance company within the first two minutes of meeting, Mrs. Nilsson said, “I was interested because I had never danced with someone in that kind of setting who talked so much and asked so many questions.”

“Our first date was this really wonderful evening on the lower east side of Manhattan. We walked around and visited a little art gallery, went to a couple of nice restaurants,” said Mr. Nilsson. Then he tagged along with Mrs. Nilsson to Milonga, a tango dance party. After desperately trying to learn the basic steps while watching Mrs. Nilsson dance, Mr. Nilsson decided he would learn tango for her.

After three and a half weeks of rigorous courses almost everyday, Mr. Nilsson “showed up” to another tango session where Mrs. Nilsson “happened to be.” Mrs. Nilsson admitted that he had succeeded in impressing her with what Mr. Nilsson calls his “tango skills.”

From then on, the romance took off, and in 2009 they both moved to Deerfield.

Although the Calhouns suspect that they may have briefly met at Williams College, Mr. Calhoun said, “I had a beard and long hair, and, thankfully, she doesn’t remember me from college.”

Five years later, Mr. and Mrs. Calhoun met again when Mr. Calhoun got a job at the Hotchkiss School, where Mrs. Calhoun had already been working. Both had heard of the other from mutual friends who ultimately set the two up.

After a couple of jogs and bike rides together, which started to count as dates, Mr. Calhoun said, “I had a girlfriend by the time school started and the kids [students] arrived.”

At Mrs. Calhoun’s parents’ house one day, approximately a year after the two met, Mr. Calhoun set out on a bike ride, while Mrs. Calhoun went the other direction on a jog. Mr. Calhoun watched as she went on her way, then quickly retreated to the house to ask her parents, in his words, “like a proper Southern gentleman,” for her hand in marriage. When Mrs. Calhoun returned from her jog, her mother quickly embraced her and congratulated her daughter, not realizing that Mr. Calhoun had been keeping it a surprise and had not yet proposed. And so, the cat was out of the bag.

Mrs. Calhoun added, however, “We climbed to the top of Aspen Mountain in Colorado and he got down on his knee and asked me there.”

Mr. Calhoun said, “I did manage to get in a little bit of a surprise because I promised her I would not ask her in Aspen, but both of us knew, of course, that I would ask her there.” In 2007, (including a year in Chile), Mr. and Mrs. Calhoun found positions at Deerfield Academy and have been working here ever since.

A couple whose love story began to unfold at a friend’s wedding, Dr. Invernizzi and Mr. Taft have been married since the summer of 1988 but met in the fall of 1981 when they were both studying at the University of Virginia. At UVA, their friends had always insisted that they were meant for each other. One friend in particular believed their marriage “was in the stars,” but throughout graduate school, they remained only friends.

Years later, the two of them met again, coincidentally, at that same friend’s wedding.

After a year of a long-distance relationship between UVA, where Dr. Invernizzi was finishing her Ph. D., and Deerfield Academy, where he was already working, Mr. Taft asked Dr. Invernizzi to move up to the Deerfield area. Dr. Invernizzi said, “Well, leaving all my professors and friends to live close to each other makes me leave all I know and have known for so many years. Are we ready to think about that knot people tie?” Mr. Taft replied that the two would continue to think about it.

Two weeks later in New York City, Mr. Taft proposed. After an exciting summer in Ecuador climbing volcanoes and unwittingly swimming in a river full of piranhas, the two married in August, and then left for Deerfield Academy.

Both agree that working together has not been an issue at all, and in fact, has strengthened their relationship. Dr. Invernizzi also stressed the importance of independence as, slightly ironically, part of the glue that holds them together: “We like to pursue our own passions, and, in turn, allow the other to pursue hers.”

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