For Middle School Sweethearts, a Second Chance

As a second-year medical student at Michigan State University, Dr. Aliyya Terry was scrolling through Facebook in February 2017 when she stopped on a photo taken at an event on campus that included Martin Childs IV.

“His face stood out instantly to me,” Dr. Terry said.

The reason he was so familiar: Mr. Childs and Dr. Terry, both 30, had been childhood sweethearts after they met in math class as sixth graders at Morse Middle School in Milwaukee.

“She was just talking to everybody and we struck up a friendship that way,” Mr. Childs said of how the two first connected. “But in the eighth grade, when we went on our class trip to Washington, D.C., that’s when we struck up a kind of middle school love story.”

On that trip, they got lost together in the city, then stayed up late talking to each other on the hotel’s telephones. Afterward, they exchanged home phone numbers to continue their long conversations outside of class.

But the pair lost touch following their middle school graduation, and would not reconnect until Dr. Terry saw the photo on Facebook and sent a message to Mr. Childs, who at the time was a first-year law student at Michigan State.

From there, their relationship followed a similar trajectory. Over the following two years, they developed a close friendship that, by 2019, had started to evolve into something more romantic. When the two got together that February to celebrate Mr. Childs’s 28th birthday, Dr. Terry said she “had butterflies” while preparing for the night.

“I remember wanting to look really cute,” she said.

Dr. Terry and Mr. Childs went out for tacos and margaritas, and afterward he asked her to go to a bar with him. They ended up staying out until 2 a.m.

“It brought us back to that time in middle school, in D.C., where we were talking on the phone until three or four in the morning,” Mr. Childs said.

The two spoke daily after that, and by May 2019, they were officially a couple. When both graduated from Michigan State that year, they continued their relationship long distance.

After receiving her medical degree, Dr. Terry was accepted to a residency program at the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center in Oakland, Calif. Mr. Childs, upon earning his law degree, accepted a job offer as an attorney for Quarles & Brady in Chicago. But they made an effort to fit in as much face time as possible.

“We worked it out where we saw each other every other weekend. We tried to do the flights from Chicago to California,” Dr. Terry said. “We were nuts.”

When Covid hit in March 2020, Dr. Terry invited Mr. Childs, whose job had just gone remote, to stay with her in Oakland for a week or so. He accepted her invitation — and never left. On Nov. 21, 2020, Mr. Childs proposed at a hotel in Sonoma, Calif., where the couple took a celebratory trip after Dr. Terry finished the final part of her medical licensing exam.

They were wed on Nov. 27 at the Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Milwaukee, which is the Childs family’s church and just a few blocks from Dr. Terry’s childhood home. The Rev. Martin Childs Jr., the church’s pastor and Mr. Childs’s father, officiated.

Following the ceremony, a reception was held at The Atrium, an event space in Shorewood, Wis., for the couple’s 150 guests, all of whom were encouraged to be vaccinated and asked to wear masks during the events.

The bride and groom flew to St. Lucia two days later for a two-week honeymoon, before returning to their home in Oakland, where they look forward to life as a married couple, Mr. Childs said.

“Besides spending the rest of my life with her, I’m so excited about one day raising a family with her and having our first home together,” he said. “I’m just ready to start the process of doing things together.”