Marriage proposal choreographed to perfection during school musical

| Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

As the choreographer for North Allegheny Senior High School's spring musicals for the past eight years, Andrea Ronk thought she had seen it all when it came to unexpected occurrences on stage.

She was wrong.

The elementary school art teacher was surprised during the high school's production of “Shrek The Musical” on Saturday when the students playing Shrek and Donkey held up a sign reading, “Will you marry me, Andrea” and interjected some new dialogue after the finale.

Ronk, who was in the audience with her boyfriend, Aaron Jaecks, turned to see him kneeling and holding an engagement ring in the aisle. A spotlight was put on them.

“And the whole audience was in an uproar. It was a fairytale. It was really a fairytale,” said Ronk, 31, who teaches art at McKnight and Marshall elementary schools.

Ronk said yes.

The Cranberry couple has been dating for about a year and half since meeting at church, they said.

“She always really respected, you know, the fact that I'm passionate about what I do and supports me in that, and I try to do the same for her,” said Jaecks, 34, who manages a golf shop.

Ronk jokingly said she knew Jaecks was the one for her when he quietly let her win at miniature golf on their second date.

“He was willing to put me first,” she said.

Jaecks initially intended to propose to Ronk on Valentine's Day, but decided instead to pop the question in a way that would have more significance for Ronk.

“I knew the musical was important to her. She's been working on it … for eight years,” he said.

Jaecks had helped Ronk create a sign for one of the scenes in the musical, so he created a similar one for his proposal.

During intermission on Saturday, Geoff Bland, the North Allegheny senior who played Shrek, and Andy Hosler, the senior who played Donkey, were asked to participate in the proposal. The other cast members were told that something unusual would happen at the end of Act II, but they weren't given any specifics, Ronk said.

“It was very sweet and very lovely,” said Karen Jane Elliott, who has been a parent coordinator, which is the equivalent of a producer, for the high school's musicals for 10 years. A few of the directing team members knew of the plans for the proposal, she said.

“We were thrilled for Andrea and happy to do anything that we could to ensure that it went smoothly on the night,” she said.

The evening was special not only because of the proposal, but because it was done in front of family members and longtime friends, Ronk said. About 20 of her family members, including her parents and grandmothers, drove from Clarkston, Mich., to witness the proposal, she said.

Some North Allegheny seniors in the cast used to take private dance classes from Ronk, who taught dance to children in the Pittsburgh area for nine years.

“They've known me for such a long time that this was special for them to be a part of, as well,” she said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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