SLATSBURY, OH—Sharing tender smiles with each other as they recounted the story they will one day tell their grandchildren, sweethearts Beth Adelwright and Jason Knelberg told reporters Friday how they met underneath the same small table during an active shooter lockdown at their high school.
According to the couple, their romance began one morning early this fall as Adelwright and Knelberg sat in second-period trigonometry class, with both admitting they were completely unaware at the time what fate had in store for them. When gunshots suddenly rang out across the building, the pair said they found themselves both diving for cover in the same spot, marking the first time the two students, who ran in different social circles, had spent any time together.
“I’ll remember the day we met for the rest of my life,” said Adelwright, 18, recalling the announcement of the lockdown by the school principal, and how their teacher immediately bolted the door, turned off the lights, and lowered the blinds. “My heart was racing that first time I looked deep into his terrified, blue eyes. And as we moved into the classroom’s designated ‘safe corner,’ as far away from the door as possible, there was just this really anxious energy in the air—I think we definitely both felt it.”
“I was so nervous the whole time,” she added.
For his part, Knelberg, also 18, admitted to experiencing “a huge rush of emotions” during that first encounter with his soon-to-be girlfriend, which they spent crowded up against a wall trying to remain absolutely quiet.
“At one point, it sounded like there was someone walking down the hallway outside our room, and the two of us huddled together,” Knelberg said. “There was so much tension in the room, and before I knew it, we were clasping hands. I can still remember the way her sweaty palm felt in mine. We couldn’t help but feel close to each other at that moment.”
He added, “It’ll make for quite a story to tell our kids—and our kids’ kids—someday.”
As the couple recalled how a SWAT team entered the classroom to evacuate them from the building, they both acknowledged feeling a little upset when, in the confused dash out the school doors and to safety, they were separated. However, Knelberg is said to have found Adelwright later in a triage tent set up a few blocks away, and the two reportedly shared a blanket as they tried to stay warm and answered questions from sheriff’s deputies.
In the days that followed—from the school’s candlelight vigil, to several memorial services, to their eventual first real date—the two were inseparable, according to friends. The couple told reporters it didn’t take long for them to enter into a serious relationship, bonding as they did over their similar taste in movies, their shared sense of humor, and the frequent recurring nightmares they have both experienced since the shooting rampage.
“When I think about how I almost signed up for second-period chemistry this year instead of trig, I—God, it just makes me realize how lucky I am,” said Knelberg, explaining that, whenever they recount their initial meeting, he and his girlfriend still have the same intense feelings they felt the day they met, and that they likely always would. “If I’d been in chemistry, there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t be sitting here with Beth today.”
“I guess fate has a funny way of working out,” he added.