Written by Phil Cerroni
By Sissy Courtney
At Valley Ranch Elementary School, teacher Camille Ricciotti received a surprise visit during a Coppell Middle School East holiday band performance that conceivably everybody there will never forget. Camille’s boyfriend, Kenwin Cummings, slipped from behind the band, got down on one knee, and proposed to her. She said, “Yes,” and the entire school cheered as the band played the Wedding March.
The event, which just lasted a matter of minutes, required many phone calls, planning, and preparation behind the scenes – and lots of “Yeses.”
Kenwin’s first proposal was to Valley Ranch Elementary School Principal Cynthia Arterbery. She also said, “Yes,” to him and his plan, and she called the Middle School East band director to ask if the band could play the Wedding March. Although that meant the students had little time to learn the music, the proposal got another, “Yes.”
The day of the concert was also Teacher Dessert Day at the elementary school Dec. 19.
“I took my class to the program thinking we were just going to the program, and all this started to happen,” Camille said. “My principal called me up to the front and was just introducing me to the students since I’m a newer teacher here, and she handed me a cupcake. It was Dessert Day for the staff. On the cupcake it said, ‘Will you marry me?’
“I was just really shocked because I didn’t think Ms. Arterbery was going to call me to the front at all, so once she had me in front of everybody, she had me kind of on the spot,” Camille said. “I was trying to wave to the kids, and she hands me the cupcake. I looked at it, and I was confused. Then she said, ‘There’s a very special person who has a question to ask you.’”
Kenwin made his move.
“All the band kids knew about it, but they kept it a secret,” Kenwin said. “I came kind of behind the band, and some of them saw me and started snickering and smiling, because they knew what was about to happen.”
“And then I saw him, and I thought, ‘Oh, My Gosh, this is happening in front of the whole school and all the kids,’” Camille said.
In front of Camille, the band and everybody, Kenwin got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.
“I said, ‘Yes,’” Camille said. “I don’t think we even put the ring on. I think Ms. Arterbery had to say, ‘Go ahead and put the ring on.’”
Laughing, Kenwin said, “She had to prompt us through.”
“Then we kissed, and all the kids were like, ‘Oooooo!’” Camille said.
“The kids loved it,” Kenwin said. “And then the band played the Wedding March song. It was kind of cool, because when Ms. Arterbery brought it up to them, they didn’t know how to play it, and so they learned to play it just for this little event. They did good; they played it twice.”
“It was perfect,” Camille said. “There was just so much going on, and they played it, so we decided we could make our exit.”
After the concert, Camille and her students went back to her classroom, and Kenwin said he went back with them “to hang out for a while.”
“I called both of my parents,” Camille said. “They had already known, and my brother had already known too because Kenwin had already talked to them. And I sent a picture of my hand to my friends with ‘Woohoo!’ They all knew what I meant.”
Camille seemed unfazed that nearly everybody knew about the proposal before she did.
“I thought it was cool because I just started at this school and for him to call my principal and other teachers here that I barely even know…” Camille said. “It was really neat that they were all doing this for me when they really don’t know me that well. It was a good way to bond with them, and it was a good way to get to know everybody.”
“A great way to break the ice,” Kenwin said.
Camille said she had not been the least bit suspicious. She said they picked out the ring a year ago, but she did not know he had bought it.
“First of all, I did not think he would do something like that in front of so many people,” Camille said. “When I would think about how it would happen, I would think, ‘We’ll just be out to dinner, just us two, and it will be very low key,’ and I was perfectly fine with that. So for him to do something in front of so many people and all this planning, it was not what I expected from him at all.
“Kids have been stopping me in the hall saying, ‘Congratulations,’ or just, ‘Hi,’” Camille said. “They recognize me now, and I’ve had a couple of them ask to see my ring – parents too.”
“The parents of some of my students asked, ‘Were you the one who got engaged, because my other kid came home and said, ‘Somebody got married at school,’” Camille said. “Or they ask, ‘Is this the first time that somebody got married at school?’”
The couple had been dating four and a half years.
“(Camille) is from New Jersey, and I’m from North Carolina,” Kenwin said. “I moved to New Jersey to play with the (New York) Jets.” They met in New Jersey. When he left the Jets to play linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, Camille moved too and started her teaching career. Kenwin has since left the Cowboys for another career.
“We love the Dallas area,” Kenwin said. “There are a lot of opportunities, and she started her career here, so we decided to hang around, and we fell in love with it.”
“This class is my dream job,” Camille said. “Once I got this classroom, we decided we were going to stay.”
The couple is thinking about having their wedding in June or July and planned to look at venues in Charlotte, NC, over the holiday break.