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Students conduct phonetic wedding

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Kindergarten students at Woodward Mill Elementary School donned tuxedos and veils Thursday morning, each child holding a letter aloft as they marched down the aisle to 70s pop music.

Camera-wielding parents stood up in their seats, capturing digital images of their 5- and 6-year-olds as they took part in a scholastic tradition at Woodward Mill Elementary School known as a "Wedding of the Blends."

Acting as officiating priest in full attire, Assistant Principal Brian Walker conducted the ceremony, joining letters like Q and U "in holy matrimony."

His voice boomed out through the room of about 100 attending the event. "I am here to unite these letters," Walker said. "The Q and U will be together forever to spell such words as 'quartet,' 'quandary' and 'quip.'

The Wedding of the Blends, explained kindergarten teacher Laura Baynard "is just fun."

"It makes letter blends memorable for the kids," Baynard said. "From now on, when they see a blend in a book, they'll remember." Baynard said she's been hosting the Wedding of the Blends for three years running at Woodward Mill Elementary. It's a parent and student favorite, she added.

Students Shmar Jennings, Wahida Asadi, Hyte Martin and Ashley Clune were just a few of the kindergartners who participated in Thursday's ceremony.

Martin said he enjoyed the event.

"I learned about T and H," the young man said. "The letters go together."

Martin and Clune marched down the aisle together, parents cooing all around them. Priest Walker stood smiling as the children marched toward him with their letters in hand. "It's a good time," Walker said. "The kids enjoy it. It's a good way to help make them better readers. They can make those blend connections when they open a book."

Baynard said the elaborate ceremony was essential in her students' education.

"If you can't go big, go home. If it's small, don't do it at all," she quipped.