Alumni share how they met their soulmates

Look to your right, look to your left, you never know if that person sitting next to you in class will be your forever. Four couples share their love stories, and their chance meeting at West High.

Adam and Danielle (Renaud) Tritt

Courtesy of Danielle Tritt

Tell me about how you met. 

Danielle: “We met in 1998 freshman English, started dating in 2000 and got married in 2007. [Now], we have two kids.”

What is your favorite thing about each other? 

Danielle: “Adam appreciates my patience with him. As most of our friends say, ‘he would never find another person who would put up with his craziness [with biking, kayaking, camping, etc].’ My favorite thing about Adam is his ability to keep things interesting and to keep moving and enjoy life.”


Clay & Nikki (Kener) Douglas, Class of ’97

Courtesy of Nikki Douglas

Tell me about how you met. 

Nikki: “We met the summer after our sophomore year. We were 16. We had not had any classes together yet. We were at a mutual friend’s birthday party at West County Bath & Tennis Club in Claymont; ironically, [that’s] the neighborhood we now live in. I had been seeking him out most of that summer hoping our paths would cross.”

Clay: “We met the summer after our sophomore year at [alumna] Merissa Gordon’s 16th birthday party. It was a pool party, and this cute girl’s long hair caught my eye. We have been together for 24 years, and we will be married 15 years this October.”

What is your favorite thing about each other?

Nikki: “Clay has a fantastic sense of humor. His brain is like an endless catalog of movie quotes and historical facts. He has a broad appetite for music. He has introduced me to the music of some of my favorite bands and artists that I may not have discovered otherwise. He has the patience to live with not only my nonsense but our two elementary school age daughters as well. Being the sole male in the family can’t be an easy position to hold, but he does it with grace.”

Clay: “My favorite thing about Nikki is that she has the most beautiful soul.  She loves others with all her being and is there for you always.”


Lieutenant Commander Todd and Julia (Herries) Simpson

Courtesy of Julia Simpson

Tell me about how you met. 

Julia: “Todd was on the swim team, and I was on the diving team all four years of high school. Both the girls and boys swim team won state while we were there. Our senior year, Todd was the team manager, and I was the captain, so we spent a lot of time together. We also had English together, and we went to Senior Prom together. After we graduated high school, Todd went into the Navy, and I went to Lindenwood University, but we kept in touch regularly. We met up in Florida during spring break of my senior year in college, March 2000, and have been together ever since.”

Describe to me a happy memory that you have shared at a school event that now means a lot to you.

Julia: “We had many happy times together during practice and at state. Todd asked me to prom during a practice. It makes me smile to this day thinking about it and how cute and sweet he was.”


Jeff and Kathleen (Mastorakos) Todd

Courtesy of Jeff Todd

Tell me about how you met. 

Todd: “Our mothers claim they introduced us as 5 year olds at the Buick dealership, but we really got to know each other in high school. She was a senior, I was a junior and we met somewhere between choir and a musical theater production of “Oklahoma” that we were both in. We were both in the musical theater productions of “Oklahoma,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Lil Abner.” Spending all that time together rehearsing after school and then performances, we just grew fond of each other and started spending a lot of time together once [the performances were] over.”

How long have you been together? 

Kathleen: “We have officially known each other for 34 years and have been married for 27 years.”

Describe to me a happy memory that you have shared at a school event that now means a lot to you. 

Todd: “We have so many happy memories of that time together at school, mostly from choir trips, concerts and the musical theater performances. Our kids recently graduated from West and were both involved in choir. The traditions that are still followed in the program today really make our memories that much more important because our kids can actually relate to us in some small way.”


Ben and Erin (Bradshaw) Kniffen

Courtesy of Erin Kiffen

Tell me about how you met.

Ben: “[We were probably] ten years old or so. Erin’s Dad played horseshoes at one of our neighbor’s houses. Erin was friends with that neighbor’s granddaughter, so occasionally we would all play together. We didn’t realize this until later on in our relationship though. We didn’t go to the same school until high school.We had second period history with Mr. Woolf sophomore year. We started off sitting on opposite sides of the room at the beginning of the year, but as time went by, our seats moved closer and closer until we were almost sitting next to each other and were ‘note-passing distance’ from each other.”

Erin: “It feels like we had known each other since birth. We had several run-ins with each other during childhood, but we actually met each other in Mr. Woolf’s sophomore American History class. He walked in late on the first day, and I noticed him immediately. I did not recognize him, and being the outgoing person that I am, I am always wanting to know everyone. He was quiet and did not seem to interact with many people. I learned who he was and how to pronounce his last name from some mutual friends. I would always try to say hello, and it did not take long before flirting began. We passed notes back then, and it became a habit.”