'I want to be a housewife now'

December 26, 1999

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series profiling nine members of the class of 2000. The Herald-Mail has been following each student since they were kindergartners at Conococheague Elementary School in 1988. The profiles will appear on the last Monday of each month through May.

Stephanie TrumpowerBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Stephanie Trumpower's favorite high school memory is meeting her sweetheart - the boyfriend who became her fianc and the father of her 2-month-old son, Johnathan.

cont. from front page

Romance multiplied in math class. He was a Williamsport High School sophomore. She was, too. They took algebra together. "I didn't even know he liked me," she said.

When she went to lunch one day, he left an anonymous note in her desk. It was signed, "Caring While Noticing." Later, she learned the first letters of that phrase matched Chris Wayne Neff's initials.


He denied writing it but later confessed. She told him to call her before 6 p.m. or after 9 p.m. He rang after 10 p.m. They soon started going steady. "He asked me out March 17th," she said.

She worked at the Red Horse and he worked at McDonald's. Because both had jobs, they saw each other mostly at school. Last year, they got engaged on prom night, May 15. They plan to get married but haven't settled on a date.

Neff is joining the U.S. Army. He said he is excited and curious. In the fall he heads to Fort Benning, Ga., for basic training. The move will stretch his bride-to-be's strong family ties.

"It's going to be hard because we've never really been apart," said Billie Jo Trumpower, her mother. She will also miss her new grandson and threatens jokingly to keep him at home with her in Hagerstown.

The Trumpowers are lucky in love. Jeffrey Trumpower, a supervisor at the Maryland Correctional Institution, said he has seen a lot of co-workers split with their spouses during his 21 years there.

When his daughter was in middle school, she told him she was one of the only kids in her class with both parents together. "I know the divorce rate is high in America, but it was like, 'whoa,'" he said. "We feel fortunate we're still together."

Stephanie feels a strong family gave her an advantage in life. "A lot of people don't have that," she said. Although she used to bicker with her brother Josh, 20, they get along now. She also stayed close to a kindergarten classmate, Kristin DeBold.

"She's my best friend," said Trumpower. They went to separate middle schools but stayed in touch. They both now attend Washington County Technical High School. Trumpower is finishing the cosmetology program.

It was something she liked ever since she was a child braiding her friends' hair. She enjoys coloring and highlighting hair the most, but she didn't find the program easy. "It's a lot more work than you think it's going to be," she said.

In kindergarten, she wanted to grow up to be a movie star or a happy housewife. In middle school, she wanted to become a teacher or an actress. Today, she considers cosmetology something to fall back on. "I want to be a housewife now," she said.

Trumpower had an active school career. She was captain of her freshman cheerleader squad and in chorus that year. She played softball in middle school and ran track for two years in high school.

She's been in a church choir most of her life. She was in Williamsport's Sophisticats for two months before her course load became too hard. But Trumpower still likes "singing, dancing and being goofy," she said.

Trumpower's church involvement has led her to help others. In the summer of 1998, she attended Camp Hope in Frostburg and helped renovate a family's house, painting it, replacing its roof and fixing up it porch.

She spent a week in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in July 1996 after Hurricane Bertha struck. She took her mother's place in a group of volunteers. She stayed at a church with bars on the windows and gates around the yard.

Military men in fatigues walked down the street carrying guns. It was hot all day and she slept on a cot in a Sunday school classroom. She wasn't allowed to go out often and spent her time helping with a day care operation.

The children were mostly well-behaved, but communicating was difficult. "They didn't speak English and I don't speak Spanish," Trumpower said. She was glad to come home. "It was nice having my own bed and bathroom," she said.

The hurricane is gone but the winds of change remain. Trumpower is looking forward to graduation. "I'm ready to be out of school. I'm done," she said.

Her Halloween birth made school harder, but it's getting easier to handle, she said. The new mother has only one wish for Johnathan's life. "Just as long as he's happy doing whatever he's doing," she said. "That's all that matters."

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