School bell ring

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The day before spring break is exciting for any student. But for fourth-graders at St. John Academy in McLean, the day took on new significance when they were enlisted in a top secret marriage proposal plan for their teacher, Sarah Kratz.

"It was the best day of the school year," said Kratz.

Kratz and her now-fiance, Tim Markwardt, met online a little more than a year ago. After just one date, they knew they wanted to be together forever, she said.

On the day before Easter vacation, Kratz sent her students to the gym teacher for a quick break. When she came to pick them up for class, the students had white T-shirts on top of their uniforms. The students each wore a letter, spelling out the words, "Will you marry me, Miss Kratz?" The children giggled, and other teachers peeked out of their classrooms as Markwardt walked through the hallway and got down on bended knee.

"The rest of the day we had recess because I could not focus on anything," said Kratz. Though she had not previously told the students about her dating life, in spite of the surprise, they played their part perfectly, she said. "The students went wild, they were so excited (for me)," she said.

This group of students in particular has a special place in her heart as her first class. Kratz taught them first grade during her inaugural year of teaching. She believes her fiance proposed with their help because of the big part they play in her life.

"I think he wanted to include them because even though I don't really like being the center of attention, when they're around I'm at my best," she said. "I don't have any kids yet so they are like a little family to me, and he wanted to ask their permission, too."

Di Mauro can be reached at or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016