High School Throwback: Dena

I began a wall of photos my freshman year and never took it down – much to my parents dismay. Also, take note of the Glamour Shot in the bottom left corner… admit it – you have one too!
Photo Credit: John Fleno/ Dena Fleno

High School: Timberlane Regional High School, Plaistow, NH

Class of: 1998

My hometown is small, and so were the other 3 towns around us, therefore we were all lumped into one regional school.  I never really thought much about it until I would try to call a friend in one of those other towns and it was a long distance call.

If I had to label my high school self I would probably say I was a “floater” – I got along with, and hung out with lots of different kids in different cliques.  I like to think I was a nice person back then, and that I never made anyone feel bad about themselves, but others may have perceived me differently, I don’t know… if I ever wronged you, I am truly sorry.

I was pretty much a goodie-two-shoes and, as my mom can attest, only got hit by the “stupid stick” after I turned 18.  Most of our fun was had at band parties, school functions and the occasional trip of mayhem to go “forking.” For those not versed in small-town antics, we basically drove around town and would stick plastic forks in our friends’ lawns, sometimes spelling out “Fork You!”  Again, I remind you now that it was NH, and not much to do.

I was a pretty good student and probably could have been better if I really “applied myself,” but I was fine with getting by with making the Honor Roll every other term.  Most of my energy was devoted to dance.  I started dancing when I was 3, and by the time I graduated I was dancing 6 days a week and teaching classes to the younger kids, as well as participating in shows and competitions throughout the year.  It was my life, so much so that I had planned to make a career out of it.  It is probably one of the biggest reasons I am who I am today, and have the confidence to put myself out there.

Photo Credit: John Fleno

Many of my high school memories can be started with “This one time…at Band Camp…” and I would not be quoting the movie American Pie (or its sexual innuendos, thankyouverymuch).  I was a band geek (as we lovingly referred to ourselves) and proud of it!  We did Marching Band in the fall and I was part of the Color Guard- you now the girls in the parades spinning the flags.

Note to self: White palazzo pants DO NOT look good on ANYONE!
Photo Credit: John Fleno

 Besides the fun of traveling to games, competitions, and going on band trips, there were the lifelong friends that I made.  Many of the people I count as my best friends were in the band with me.  We were, and are, the epitome of friendship – the friends who no matter how far apart, or how long it has been since you spoke, always pick right back up where you left off.  Being a band geek wasn’t necessarily the coolest clique to be in, but we were not tormented like I’m sure others were in high school.  We mostly tormented each other, in a sibling sort of way, and had each others backs.  If you are at a parade and decide to make fun of the drum major (who happens to be a little person), don’t be surprised when you get a flag to the cranium!

band crew
Some of the crew in the Band Room- where we hung out A LOT!
Photo Credit: Darlene Hollenbeck

I also spent that last few years of high school as a member of the Timberlane Players.  This was the drama club, and I participated in the spring musicals.  I sucked (and still do) at singing, but I was able to use my dancing skills and even helped choreograph my senior musical, Hello! Dolly.

hello dolly cast
I was Ermengarde- I pulled off tone-deaf and screechy well!
Photo Credit: Dean Zanello

The Players, at the time, were a mish-mosh of die-hard theater kids, those of us who just loved to perform, and even a jock or two mixed in.  We were under the direction of one of my favorite teachers (and a true life mentor to many) Mr. C.  Before each show opened, we would all gather and listen to What I Did for Love, from A Chorus Line (I still cannot listen to that song without tears).  Those moments were truly special, because it was the culmination of all the blood, sweat, and tears we had all put into the show for the last several months, but it represented the melting pot that the Players were.  In that moment, high school labels washed away and we were just a team.  It was beautiful.

Last, but not least, high school was also the place where I found my first love.  That boy would later become my husband.

On the left is my Junior Semi-formal, and the right is our wedding day… cue the awwwwww….
Photo Credit: L: Unknown; R: Jim Vaiknoris

We started dating the end of my freshman year (his junior year) and had our fair share of breakups, make-ups, and general high-school BS.  He went off to college first, and we maintained a long-distance relationship for the better parts of my last 2 years of high school.  Despite being essentially babies, we knew what we felt was true love, and it was tested over and over again.  I’m not convinced that everyone should marry their high school sweetheart, but for us, it was meant to be.

I married my high school sweetheart, and all I got was this super-cute family… ♥
Photo Credit: John Fleno

Special thanks to my Dad for taking pics of pics for this post, and Darlene Hollenbeck and Dean Zanello for allowing me to steal photos from Facebook!


26 thoughts on “High School Throwback: Dena

  1. I loved this… I’m just sad I was only there for my senior year, so didn’t get to hang out with you all for longer! It didn’t matter that I was theatre and singing, and you were band and color guard- we all got along, and there were fun times had by all 🙂


  2. Dena…you were always the nice girl and I can’t believe that you would even think that others would think otherwise!!! Glad to see that things haven’t changed!!!!


  3. Wow Dena,,,,,,,, Where did the time go………. such great memories and I love your mom acting innocemt she always tried to say your dad was the bad one! Loved going down memory lane with you! Fine women and rold model you have turned out to be


  4. High school was lot of fun…its great to relive those memories. We may have been band geeks, but we were the coolest band geeks around. I remember my sophomore year and your freshman year meeting you for the first time. Who would have thought that 18 years later we would still be best friends. I love how our mom’s would drive the getaway van while we forked all of our friends…how we would get in trouble together for the party we went to and had to call our folks. (Just trust me Barbara)…being in each others weddings…watching our children grow and play with each other… it melts my heart to know that our friendship has lasted so many years and many more to come. I love how our families are like family. Love you Dena, xoxo


    1. Tiff, I wouldn’t have made it through High School without you! I’m so glad that my wish came true that first day of CG camp when I hoped you would want me to be your friend! Well, I got more than a friend, I got another sister 🙂 Love you!


    1. Thanks Ann- I WAS having fun in HS! I am really grateful for the experience I had, and I owe a lot to my friends, family and some really fabulous teachers.


    1. Thanks Kriste! My mom and my friend’s mom would actually drive the “getaway” van- that is how super lame it was! The only crime was the waste of so many plastic forks!


      1. If my kids ask me to drive the getaway car for something as lame (albeit hilariously fun) as forking- I will have done my job… love you too 🙂


  5. Awwww, love, Love, LOVE!!!!!!!!!!! Love seeing you in your dance outfit! I LOVE your high-school experience so much I think I’d like to trade with you! Beautiful pics and beautiful family! I love you!


    1. I love you too Kate Street! And I had to really work hard to not post how much I miss those dance legs (you know, since I am trying to accept this body and all), but damn… I miss those legs!


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