In early April, Brianna Clewell and Daniel Elston got engaged in what was likely the first ever marriage proposal to take place on the Queen’s Grant High School campus.
Clewell and Elston, both Queen’s Grant alumni, met at Queen’s Grant’s 2010 “Stampede Week.” Clewell, a junior at the time, first encountered sophomore Elston during a kickball tournament between the two classes, but the pair couldn’t seem to stop crossing paths.
Even after Stampede Week ended, Clewell and Elston couldn’t seem to avoid one another. “I just kept running into him over and over,” says Clewell. “OK,” she thought, “apparently this is fate. We’re supposed to be friends.”
The proposal itself came as no surprise to Clewell, who helped pick out her own ring six weeks ago. After over seven years together, plans for their fall wedding were already in the works. But time and place of the proposal were unexpected.
Elston pulled off the surprise with the help of fellow Queen’s Grant alumna Victoria Gernoske and drama teacher Elizabeth Mills. Gernoske and Clewell were looking at bridesmaids’ dresses when Gernoske received a text from Mills asking her to stop by campus and give her opinion on something the drama club was working on. Clewell remembers being annoyed at the time. “Really?” thought Clewell. “At 4:45 in the middle of our day? That’s really irritating.”
But Clewell didn’t know what was happening behind the scenes. “It started with Daniel calling me one day, ecstatic that he had just picked up Brianna’s ring,” said Gernoske. “We then had to make a plan to get her to Queen’s Grant because, obviously, it’s not a place she goes terribly often.” Gernoske arranged to have Mills, with whom she has kept in touch, message her while the two were out shopping.
“Because we drove together that day, she had no choice but to go with me,” said Gernoske. The plan was for Elston to beat them to campus, but traffic on 485 necessitated some stalling. Clewell and Gernoske spent some time talking to Mills about drama projects and then sought out their former history teacher Eric Hill. When Gernoske got the OK from Elston, the pair said good-bye to Mr. Hill and headed back to Mills’ room for Gernoske’s bag.
Instead, when she exited the history mod, Clewell found Elston in the gazebo, standing amidst photos of their time together and holding a ring box in his hand. “Brianna’s face was priceless and I wish I had been able to photograph it,” says Gernoske.
The time and place of the proposal was a happy surprise for Brianna, who had thought Elston might propose at his apartment that night. “I was surprised by the way he did it,” said Clewell. “It was kind of cute because I always thought if we did get engaged and married I would want to get proposed to there.”
Clewell and Elston plan to marry in October of this year with Gernoske as matron of honor. The couple plans to live in the South Charlotte area, where Elston works for Sencera Energy and Clewell hopes to work as a nurse practitioner after graduating from Queen’s University.