On her 30th birthday Thursday, Hesperia High School art teacher Jennifer Campbell was making a presentation during Back to School Night when she was interrupted by the school's public address system.
"When the announcement came on, I couldn't tell who it was," Campbell said Friday. "They said happy birthday to me."
Then the voice — made unfamiliar by the distortion of the school's P.A. system — began talking about her 7-year relationship with her boyfriend, Brad Strehle.
"Jen, you are my love, my life, my partner, my best friend. You are my dream girl," Strehle said, his voice carrying across the packed campus. "You are beautiful in every way imaginable and I cannot imagine my life without you in it. You truly are my other half. Jen, I want that to continue forever. ... I am getting down on my knee and asking if you will make me the happiest man in the world and take my hand in marriage."
If she wanted to marry him, he asked her to meet him out in the school's quad.
"When I was coming out to the quad, people were hanging out of doors to see what was going to happen," Campbell said.
"There's people yelling out into the quad, 'Did she say yes?'" Strehle said.
When Campbell got outside, she was met by family members who presented her with flowers, followed by Strehle giving her a bouquet of 30 birthday roses and a ring borrowed from her 5-year-old niece, Madison. Her real engagement ring, based on a design by Campbell, is still fashioned in Huntington Beach.
"I was super nervous," Strehle said. "I was thinking, 'Why am I nervous? I know that she's going to say yes.'"
Which she did.
The proposal-by-public-address-system idea came to Strehle as a Plan B.
"I planned to do it on her birthday, but I didn't know she had Back to School Night, so that sort of thwarted my plan — not that I had one," said Strehle, a counselor at a private school for troubled kids.
The first time they met, years ago with a blind date on Valentine's Day, the normally non-superstitious Campbell told Strehle she had a premonition they'd one day be wed.
"After the first couple of weeks (of dating), I told him I wanted to be married by the time I was 30," Campbell said, sitting on a stool in her classroom beside Strehle. "So you're late," she grinned.
Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.