The final act in Delaware Valley High School’s Biennial Staff Talent Show on Dec. 20 was a romantic solo sung by music teacher T.J. Hayden. But the ultimate act was no act. It was for real.
Hayden, still wearing his acoustic guitar, came off the stage and into the audience, took a knee, and presented an engagement ring to his girlfriend.
The audience of 230 – mostly students – jumped up, clapping hands and yelling approval. Although he is new this year, Hayden already has an enthusiastic following.
His fiancée is Isabel Williams. She and Hayden, who grew up across the street from each other in Pitman, had been together for eight years.
Hayden explains that after six years of college, “I finally got a job and could buy a ring.”
And the dramatic proposal? Hayden said he’d been wanting to sing the love song “Losing You” (by John Butler) to Isabel. A concert setting would be more comfortably “organic” than a one-on-one serenade. And that created the perfect intro for his timely proposition.
Proposing in such a public way “is definitely not us,” he said, so he knew she’d be well surprised. “But I was very happy to share it with Del Val.” Given the teaching job and the betrothal, “It’s been a good year.”
The show raised $1,140 for improvements to the auditorium. The winning act, as determined by applaus-o-meter, was a four-teacher band consisting of Hayden and Ben McPherson on guitar, Dan Wells on keyboard and Brian Smith on drums.
The other entries were humorous videos and musical performances, emceed by teachers Clinton Ambs and Jessica Severns, and produced by teacher Molly Esposito, assisted by Carolyn Wolsiefer.