Now children,” said Kamela Britvec, “sit up straight and fold your hands in your laps.” Nothing odd so far. Britvec, or Miss B., as she’s called, is the first-grade teacher at Wall Elementary School in Sturgis, Mich. (pop. 10,000), and her class needed calming. Funny thing is, Britvec should have been the nervous one. She was about to marry Wall’s fifth-grade teacher, Tim Peterson, or Mr. P., in a classroom ceremony. Chalk up another plus for the American educational system.
“We wanted a nice, quiet wedding,” says Britvec, 25, “something personal.” She and Peterson, 30, have a number of friends in common—most of them under 12 years of age—and naturally wanted them all to be on hand for the big event. “The children watched the relationship grow,” says Miss B. “It wouldn’t be fair to leave them out.” Certainly not. Britvec, a native of Battle Creek, Mich., met Peterson, an ex-farmer and Peace Corps volunteer from nearby Ionia, last summer at a faculty picnic. After six weeks of “polite conversation,” they had their first date. The Wall kids were instantly hip. “I knew Miss B. liked Mr. P. because she gave him milk money,” says a discerning Charlie Wilson, 7.
At 1:45, 50 students and the couple’s families crowded into Britvec’s room for the intrascholastic wedding. Mayor Donald Easterday performed the nuptials from a podium propped on a desk. The children took part in the ceremony, singing songs like “Fiddle-dee-dee, Fiddle-dee-dee, the fly has married the bumblebee” and reciting their thoughts about love. “Love is cool, love is awesome,” chanted the fifth graders.
After squirming through the closing kiss, the kids gave the couple a quilt with their hand-drawn designs: dinosaurs, hearts and flowers. The newly-weds were ushered off by a clanging school bell and wishes best summed up by a sign from the kindergarten: “We hope you have a nice marriage,” it read. “Have a nice evening.”