An RM love story


The newly weds beam at the camera

Raha Murtuza, Arts editor

In the fall of 1988, Adam Cooper and Susan Baker were freshmen beginning the IB Programme at Richard Montgomery. Baker attended middle school at Stone Ridge, an all-girls school in Bethesda and left after she was accepted into the Magnet program. Cooper had gone to Julius West, and applied without thinking much of it. Little did they know, their time at RM would result in a marriage and a child who would join the IB programme many years later.

Baker and Cooper met in freshman year, as the IB programme only had 100 kids and everyone knew each other.“You’d be in rows alphabetized by last name. Her last name is Baker, mine is Cooper, so we were generally pretty close,” Cooper said. “If her last name had been Zaker, we never would’ve met!” 

For the first two years, the two of them knew each other, but weren’t friends. “I always thought he was very cute,” Baker said. “But, we didn’t have any classes together in tenth grade.” 

At the end of sophomore year, a chance encounter gave them the opportunity to get to know each other better. “We had one friend who I met and we went together to a party. And [the friend] said, ‘Oh, I gotta pick someone up,’” Baker said. They drove and got Cooper, who was standing alone on a dark, neighborhood street. “He [the friend] got me first. And then he dropped me off somewhere so he could go get [her] alone, and then come and get me,” Cooper laughed.

After the party, the three of them became better friends and started talking to each other more often. “Much to this other young man’s chagrin, who I think had his eyes on me, I sort of ended up developing an affinity for [Cooper] and [he] had a girlfriend. It was not me,” Baker said. “That summer, she went off to do a program in Spain. Then, for the first time, we hung out a couple of times. We’d go to the park and talk.”

By the end of the summer, the said girlfriend returned from her trip to Spain and was not too pleased to find that her boyfriend had been hanging out with another girl all summer long. She told Cooper he couldn’t talk to Baker. “He wrote me a letter and he’s like, I’m not going to see you anymore. It was very dramatic! I remember writing a letter and having someone go give it to [him],” she said. “So we stopped talking and we didn’t talk most of twelfth grade. And I was like “He’s a loser and he’s not interesting.’”

Eventually, Cooper reconnected with Baker towards the end of high school. “[He] called me to ask me about the book we were reading in English, just totally out of the blue. And I was like, ‘Why am I having this conservation?’ He was the humanities person and I was the math-science person,” Baker recalled. She ended up inviting him to her eighteenth birthday party, which he chose to go to rather than spend time with his girlfriend.

They got together after that, expecting the relationship to only last that summer. “I remember we were sitting in the car the day before I left for college and I said “I don’t really want to break up, do you want to break up?” And he said, “No, not really,’” Baker recalled. 

“I thought Susan was pretty and I knew she was a really smart kid,” Cooper said. “[She] was interesting because [she wasn’t] faking the way a lot of other people would fake. [She] was very sincere.”

They began a long-distance relationship with Baker attending William & Mary and Cooper attending Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn. From college on, the two had an off-again, on-again relationship, with Cooper moving to Denver and Baker having another boyfriend for a short time (who happened to be the boy driving the car the night of the party.) 

Eventually, they settled down and got engaged in 2001. Cooper’s parents hosted a small party to celebrate. “When you’re headed to marriage, they show it on TV like it’s some big thing, but you’re really just finding out if you’re compatible-if you agree on stuff like religion, lifestyle, children, money. We agreed on all of that stuff, so it just seemed to be the right thing,” Baker said.

They got married in October 2002 and had a child, Evelyn (‘24), on Feb. 14, 2006. I met them in 2010, when Evelyn and I were four and Baker taught us ballet lessons at the local community center. We also have lived on the same street and been good friends for twelve years, so of course, I had to ask Evelyn about the whole parents-meeting-at-RM ordeal on the bus one rainy morning.

“I don’t have anything intelligent to add,” they said. “The school has changed a lot since they attended, so it doesn’t feel like it’s the same for me.” In 2020, Evelyn joined the IB programme as a freshman like her parents did 32 years earlier, which delighted them, as they both had positive experiences.

“I’m really glad I did it. It was hard for me at first, but it gave me some discipline that I didn’t have. Partially it was because I didn’t want to be embarrassed by not keeping up and partially it was because of the interest in the material,” Cooper said. “Those last two years, I was very interested in what we were learning. I still revisit some of those books from English class. When I got to college, especially for writing papers for classes, it was easier than high school had been.”

Baker remembers the teachers as being one of the best parts about the IB programme. From her chorus and Madrigals instructor Mr. Frezzo, to history teacher Mr. Early who she had a small crush on, the IB teachers forged unforgettable relationships with the students. Although a county-wide teachers strike caused disruption during their senior year, for the most part, Baker felt the teachers were excited to be at school and genuinely cared about their job.

However, both Cooper and Baker noted a couple of aspects about 90’s RM that weren’t so great. “None of us connected with the counselors,” Cooper said. “I used to be in the school newspaper and I remember writing some article about how my counselor didn’t let me know in time about some deadline, or something. I’m sure it was my fault.”

 Baker said that in speaking with Evelyn’s counselor, she’s noticed the counseling department is something that has changed for the better. 

According to Cooper, another thing that’s changed for the better is the divide between the IB program and the neighborhood kids. “It was interesting to have this IB programme housed in this school that wasn’t one of the top performing schools. There were two separate worlds,” he recalled. “I do feel like it’s a little less bifurcated now.” 

Something that hasn’t gotten better, meanwhile, are the mandatory pep rallies, which both of them despised. “It was kind of meant for the jock side of the world,” she said. 

It was at this exact moment when I knew I was speaking with true IB kids.