— -- They may just be the cutest high school sweethearts ever.
Jon Holt and Iris Howorth are both teachers at Chalmette High School in Chalmette, Louisiana. The school has been a huge part of their love story for the past three years, so it only seemed appropriate that’s where Holt would pop the question.
“I wanted to get the kids involved so it would be extra special,” Holt, 25, told ABC News. “We met each other through Teach for America and came to work at the same school, so what better way to give back to them what they all gave to us? I wanted to provide them with a really rare and really special moment -- wanted to leave a legacy as something the kids will never forget.”
It’s safe to say he accomplished that goal. On April 24, the students in Howorth’s third-period English class got just about as big of a surprise and she did.
“It was a last-minute decision to not tell the kids until the minute before it was happening,” Holt said, knowing that a bunch of excited high schoolers may not be able to keep the secret. “I ordered 100 balloons and a whole bunch of ring pops,” referring to the candies on rings.
Holt also arranged for the principal to knock on Howorth’s door asking if he could meet with her quickly in his office.
“When the principal first came I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ That’s not very normal,” Howorth recalled.
Meanwhile, Holt was nervously hiding in the stairwell next door with the school’s entire brass band in tow, waiting for the perfect chance to escape.
“Just imagine a bunch of kids with huge instruments trying to be quiet,” he quipped.
As soon as the coast was clear, he darted into her classroom and gave all of her students ring pops.
“The kids were freaking out,” Holt said. “They had absolutely no idea what was happening. But then they all screamed and were so excited and I said, ‘Who’s the funny guy? Who’s the class clown? Whenever the moment’s right, get down on one knee and propose to Ms. Howorth. But then after you’re done with that, I need someone else to do it and so on and so on.”
The kids followed orders perfectly.
“When I walked in, I could tell some of them looked a little freaked out, but I thought it was them being concerned about me getting pulled out by the principal,” said Howorth, completely unaware of what was about to happen. “My student named Joel, he’s a total goof. He’s a lovable goof. He does stuff like this all the time, so I just thought, ‘Oh, where did he get the ring pop?’”
Next thing she knows, Holt enters the room, asking her to marry him with the real ring -- her mother’s wedding ring -- which he had secretly shipped to the school’s secretaries for them to hide in the vault for safe keeping.
Of course, Howorth said “Yes,” and as the happy couple exited the classroom, they were greeted by the brass band and 100 balloons escorting them happily ever after down the hall.
“I guess he knows me better than I know myself because I loved it,” said Howorth, explaining that she had always envisioned a private proposal. “It was way bigger than anything I’d ever hoped for. I’m just excited to spend the rest of my life with Jon. I’ve never really dreamed of having any type of proposal this great, but it’s exciting to be a part of something like this -- and it’s really exciting for our school and for these kids. They are so special to us.”
This is the couple’s last year teaching at Chalmette. They said it's very bittersweet to have to leave their students, but Holt noted he was just accepted into a Ph.D. program at Duke University. This fall, they’ll be relocating to North Carolina to start new jobs, buy a new house and start their new life together.
They plan to wed on Oct. 3 at Howorth’s home in Oxford, Mississippi.