A Look Back—GHS in the 1980s: Life Lessons with Denise and Mark Longo

Part 4 in a series discussing what life was like attending Greenwich High School over the years

Mark and Denise Longo

Mark and Denise Longo Photo Credit: Maxine King

Picture this: Greenwich High School had an auto shop, there was a smoking section in the student center, and the beaches in Greenwich didn’t close at sunset.

Welcome to GHS in the 1980s.

Mark and Denise Longo, a long-married couple who met through the Greenwich school system, were kind enough to share many of their fond memories of their time spent there, and the impact it had on their lives and careers.

Mr. Fass, circa 1985

Mr. Fass, circa 1985 Photo Credit: GHS Compass Yearbook

By the time Mark and Denise attended GHS, the school had already been split into “houses,” each with its own administration.

Both Mark and Denise were in Sheldon House, and they recall their housemaster, Mr. Fass, as quite an important mentor in their lives.

He acted not only as an administrator but as a counselor, sometimes resolving disputes between the young couple.

Mark and Denise had been dating since middle school, and high school introduced included some rough patches in their relationship. Mr. Fass was able to help them through many of these issues, and his personal attention to them has helped their relationship thrive for years afterwards.

Meanwhile, in the auto-body shop, Mark was involved in hands-on learning, gaining not only practical mechanical skills but lessons about attention and failure.

Mark recalled how one day, Mr. Krol (his favorite high school teacher) had asked him and a friend to charge a battery charger in the shop. They asked him how to do it, and he instructed them to read the directions.

Neither boy read listened, and the battery promptly blew up.

Mr. Krol, mechanics teacher, circa 1985

Henry Krol, mechanics teacher, circa 1985 Photo Credit: GHS Compass Yearbook

While perhaps there are easier ways to teach the lesson of “think before you leap,” Mr. Krol let Mark and his friends discover it for themselves in a manner that they still remember years after the fact. Looking back, Mark said that he learned more overall from Mr. Krol than any other teacher at the school.

Denise’s most memorable hands-on learning took place off campus, in the work-study program she and Mark each participated in during their senior years.

“Our group of friends, towards the end of our senior year, was all about making money,” Denise remembered. Denise worked at Food Mart, where her boss both graded her work and delivered her paychecks.

As long as she showed up on time and did her job well, she got a good grade, valuable work experience, and some money to spend (or save). Mark participated in the work-study program as well, working for a hauling company, which he and Denise now own and operate.

Denise Longo (then Yaeger) as a GHS student

Denise Longo (then Yaeger) as a GHS student Photo Credit: GHS Compass Yearbook

In addition to all their hard work, Mark and Denise still found time for plenty of fun throughout their high school years.

They each remember their class’ senior pranks (in 1984, when Mark graduated, his class re-assembled a Volkswagen Bug in the student center, and in 1985, when Denise graduated, her class filled up a pool in the front corridor).

They remember attending school events, including pep rallies, football games, and the homecoming parade, all of which were quite popular at the time.

And lastly, they remember weekends spent hanging out on the beach, partying with their friends — but in moderation.

“We had a good time, but were were not troublemakers,” Denise said.  “We’d go out and have fun at night, but everybody had jobs. We all had to get up and go to work the next day.”

See also:

Greenwich’s Denise & Mark Longo: Going Strong after 37 Years

A Look Back Series:

A Look Back—GHS in the 70’s: A Transition under Headmaster John Bird

A Look Back: 40 years of GHS, an Interview with Jory Lockwood

A Look Back—GHS in the 1950s: The Classic ‘50s Experience


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