Brenna Simpson and Conner Royal

Conner Royal surprised his now fiancé Brenna Simpson, a teacher at Howard Elementary, by proposing to her at school. She, of course, said yes. Also pictured is their dog Rylie.

Conner Royal rehearsed what he was going to say as he made the 30-minute drive from work to Howard Elementary School.

Then the old brick school building came into focus.

“I wasn’t nervous until I saw the school,” Royal said. “Then the nerves kicked in. Oh, this is happening.”

Whatever he had planned to say left his mind.

“All of that kinda went out the window,” Royal said.

Staff in the Howard Elementary office were ready for Royal when he arrived. The school resource officer called down to Brenna Simpson’s class – Royal’s girlfriend — to make sure she was there.

She was. Royal was good to go.

Dean of students Kathie Layden grabbed her phone to capture the surprise moment.

Simpson was in the hallway when she saw Royal.

“Oh my God, what are you doing?” she asked in shock.

“I just wanted to ask you a question,” Royal replied, on one knee.

The answer was most certainly, “yes.”

On Aug. 12, 2022, Brenna Simpson and Conner Royal got engaged inside Howard Elementary School.

“My kids went crazy,” Simpson said. “They were all happy for us.”

The third grade teacher said her students made picture collages of the two.

Simpson and Royal are high school sweethearts and graduated from Madison-Grant High School. They’ve been together for five years.

Royal came up with the idea to propose at school, thinking it would be a memory worth remembering forever.

“I wanted to make it special,” he said. “With all the kids being around, I thought I had a pretty good chance.”

Simpson said the proposal was a long time coming.

“My face in the video, I was very surprised by it,” she said. “I was definitely very happy and excited. It was very fun for my kids to be there and experience that.”

The moment got a shoutout at Northwestern’s September school board meeting where Superintendent Kristen Bilkey showed the video.

“If you think of someone getting proposed to, it needs to be a special place,” she said. “You want it to be a memory for that person.”

Simpson and Royal are set to be married on July 15, 2023, in her father’s barn in Swayzee.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.

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