Oxcycocus School’s Q and U Wedding Celebrates Weeks of Learning for Preschoolers
Nobody among the staff at Oxycocus School seemed to know where Mr. Q and Ms. U met. Maybe they crossed paths at Lobster Beach or the Upper Space Planetarium. Or maybe they bumped into each other at the Letter People Library, or they could have taken a class at Ms. K’s Kicking Camp or found each other standing in line at the Dandelion Deli.
But what everybody realized on Feb. 15 was that Mr. Q and Ms. U were getting hitched. And when Preschool Director Stephanie Bush presided over their wedding, she described a story that was beautiful.
“They were very nice letters and enjoyed spending time together,” Bush announced to the crowd of some 148 students and an additional hundred staff members and family members who were in the school gymnasium for the big ceremony. “As time passed, Mr. Q began to realize that when he was not with Ms. U he missed her. He wanted to be with her all of the time, even when she was with some of her other letter friends.
“Mr. Q and Ms. U are so in love that they have decided to get married. So, it is with great happiness that we are gathered here together this morning to witness the wedding of Mr. Q and Ms. U.”
Following the brief ceremony during which teachers Ryan Savianeso and Margaret Coppola helped with the voiceovers for Mr. Q and Ms. U – the Letter People don’t speak any human language, of course, but they do hop up and down with excitement – Bush pronounced the letters married and it was time for a celebration, complete with a cake, music, dancing and photos with the bride and groom.
“I like the stage,” said 4-year-old Luca, describing the elaborate decoration scheme designed by the wedding planners, teachers Karen Heade and Lori Gunsten. “I think more letters should get married. This is fun.”
Classmate Addison, also 4 and dressed in a gorgeous peach dress, agreed that the wedding was fun. Unfortunately, when it came time to do some dancing at the reception, she was unable to find a willing participant.
“I danced by myself,” said Addison, whose favorite among the Letter People – take a guess – is Ms. A. “Rocco is a prince, but I didn’t dance with him. But I liked the wedding.”
Of course, all the preparation and hype leading up to Mr. Q’s and Ms. U’s big day was almost as raucous as the reception. By the way, this is the third annual Q & U Wedding, which culminates two weeks of classroom learning centered around the letters.
“For the children, it’s a huge event,” said Heade, who along with Gunsten added letter quilts and a photo booth to the festivities this year. “We tell the students in advance when it’s coming and they get really excited about it. Weeks before, they start talking about how the wedding is coming. And the girls, especially ... they start talking about the outfits they’re going to wear for it. It’s really an enjoyable event for everybody here.”
More importantly, it’s all part of a letter-learning program designed with young students in mind. And it seems to work, at least at Oxycocus School, where the students learn about one of the 26 letters of the alphabet each week, with some review periods mixed in and according to specific themes, such as “all about me,” “community helpers,” thankfulness, friendship and insects.
“In the library, I have a puppet for each letter character, and they have their own songs and there’s a map that tells the children where the Letter People’s homes are and all the places they can go,” said Coppola, a STEAM and library teacher who’s been with the school for 44 years. “They learn their letters by associating them with the letter characters, and it really helps make it real for them. The students really connect with it.”
Even Savianeso – the physical education teacher and “the only guy in the school other than one of the custodians,” hence the reason he does the voiceover for Mr. Q when he has to say “I do” – makes use of the letter-learning program by incorporating the “letter of the week” into the games and activities he sets in place.
“I love doing this kind of stuff with the kids,” he said. “I structure most of what I do around the letters. Whichever letter is the one they’re learning about, I help reinforce what they’re learning in other classes by having games through which they can better understand the letters. It takes a lot to make it all work, but we do it.”
— David Biggy