A tale of two schools: Couples navigate joys, challenges, of attending different high schools


Seniors Cadence Ghilarducci and Wyatt Underwood

Senior Cadence Ghilarducci and Palo Alto High School (Paly) senior Wyatt Underwood met a little over a year ago at a Civil Air Patrol meeting, and the sparks flew from there. Last year, Underwood took the opportunity to ask Ghilarducci to the 2021 Paly Homecoming Dance. “At the end of the meeting, she made me sit down on the bench and ask her properly,” Underwood said. They might have spoken too soon, though—unfortunately, Paly didn’t allow visitors that year, so they didn’t actually get to go as a couple. The silver lining, however, is that Ghilarducci and Underwood began dating regardless.  

Not being able to go to the Paly Homecoming Dance isn’t the only result of being in a relationship while going to different schools. “If you’re [in] a Paly–Paly relationship or a Gunn–Gunn relationship, you’re going to see that person every day, talk to them every day,” Underwood said. “I do get kind of sad sometimes because I’ll go to school and be like, ‘Oh, [Cadence] doesn’t go to this school.’”

Underwood believes that there are many aspects of relationships that couples who go to the same school may take for granted. “So many things would be so much more convenient [if we went to the same school],” Underwood said. “Going on dates would be so much easier. It’s kind of a hassle sometimes to plan things and go out.”

However, there are benefits that come from being apart. Ghilarducci enjoys the independence that dating someone from a different school brings. “It’s a good balance,” she said. “You get to see your friends, go to clubs and do your sports without feeling obligated to always be with them every second, but you still get enough time to spend with each other.” Underwood noted that taking the time to plan outings with Ghilarducci makes them closer. “We get to learn from each other better, we get to know what our schedules are like and we get to know what the other person wants to go out and do,” he said. “Planning things with the other person makes it easier to cooperate with that person for more difficult things.”

They also have a system of alternating which school events they go to. “I went to his prom last year,” Ghilarducci said. “He’s going to come to [Gunn] prom this year.”

In terms of the Gunn-Paly rivalry, the couple says it’s all in good fun and they regularly engage in playful banter over it. “I love making fun of her for going to Gunn, and she loves making fun of me for going to Paly,” Underwood said.

Senior Ashley Medina and Sebastian Herger

Senior Ashley Medina and her boyfriend Sebastian Herger have been dating since Dec. 2021. Herger, who attends Mountain View High School, recounted their first interaction. “The first time we met was on the Fourth of July,” Herger said. “We coincidentally met on a roof watching the fireworks.”

Since their first meeting (which prompts lots of firework-related puns), Medina and Herger have put significant amounts of effort into making time for one another around both of their busy schedules. “I usually have football practices during the week and [Ashley] usually has work,” Herger said. “[But] we still get to hang out a lot, even though our schedules are pretty tight.”

While the scheduling isn’t so much of an issue, the distance can be. Medina explained that living far from one another can be difficult at times. “Since he doesn’t drive, it’s not optimal that I’m usually the one driving to his school or his house because it’s just too far for him to bike,” Medina said. Herger agreed that the distance between them made meeting difficult. “Usually, if I have to bike to her house, it would take 15 [to] 20 minutes,” he said. “We can’t just walk to each other’s houses.” Furthermore, since their schools are in different districts, many school breaks don’t coincide with one another. “Our breaks not lining up is also [one of the downsides],” Herger said.

However, the couple also noted that going to different schools does have its benefits. “We talk a lot about how we’re kind of glad we go to different schools because [I] don’t really have to split [my] time between him and my friends, or him between me and his friends,” Medina said.

The added inconvenience of a district-barrier also provides an opportunity for the couple to show their commitment. “It does mean that we go out of our ways to arrange seeing each other,” Medina said. Herger believes that the lengths they go to spend time together is a testament to their devotion.“It’s a way of showing each other that we care,” he said.

Similarly, the compromises that they make in order to attend each other’s events also strengthen their relationship. “We didn’t start dating [by] last year’s [Gunn] Homecoming [Dance],” Underwood said. “But we were dating by my school’s Winter Dance. So she went to my Winter Dance. Usually, the dances don’t line up on the same day, so we can go to both. However, this year, both our Homecoming Dances were on the same day, [so we] decided to go to the Gunn dance because it’s her senior homecoming.”

Overall, Medina and Herger say that their relationship works well—maybe even better than if they went to the same school. “I’m not mad that I’m dating him and that he goes to a different school,” Medina said. “I wouldn’t prefer to date someone at Gunn.”