Floriculture Students Decorate Cremeans’ Wedding



The bridal party holds bouquets made by Nonnewaug’s floriculture class for the wedding of former aquaculture teacher Tyler Cremeans.

Allysa Calabrese, Reporter

An example of one table centerpiece made for Cremeans’ wedding by Nonnewaug’s floriculture students. (contributed)

WOODBURY — The agriculture program at Nonnewaug is designed to make students ready for the real world, give them experience and set them up for success. Within the first week of school, the junior and senior floriculture class, taught by Eric Birkenberger, had an opportunity to do just that. 

The floriculture class was given the chance to design the flower arrangements for a departed faculty member, Tyler Cremeans. Cremeans, the former aquaculture teacher at Nonnewaug, took the position of program director at Shepaug Valley High School, leaving Nonnewaug at the end of last school year. 

A wedding is a memorable point in a person’s life, and Cremeans needed the perfect combination of people to assist on his special day. He reached out to Birkenberger about flower arrangements for his wedding.

“He knows the quality of work that the students are capable of,” said Birkenberger. “In the years here, he has witnessed talented students creating beautiful arrangements for occasions ranging from weddings to funerals and everything in between.”

The floriculture class had a week to prepare the arrangements.

“Working around the school schedule was the most difficult part of the project, hands down,” said Jamie Paige, a senior floriculture student. “At a normal florist, we would be working through the day, 9-5, solid hours. Instead, we were working in 45-minute increments, requesting e-hallpasses, and working during study halls.”  

Even though Cremeans left Nonnewaug, he still keeps in contact with many of the teachers and students from the Woodbury FFA. So who was better to ask than the NHS floriculture class to make his wedding arrangements?

Luckily for Cremeans, the floriculture class is working on its wedding unit this year. The class started by looking at pictures of the different arrangements Cremeans and his wife wanted. Birkenberger ordered the flowers, which arrived within a week of the wedding.

The floriculture class didn’t make just centerpieces or bouquets. They made different arrangements like this one, hanging off the chair during the ceremony. (contributed)

Cremeans’ wife provided photos for students to use when designing the arrangements, and Birkenberger provided examples for the students. They didn’t just get help from their teacher, but past students who were in the field of horticulture after high school were asked to help. 

“Two very special guests/graduates who knew of the project had asked to come in and help. They were more than qualified to help and were very appreciated,” said Birkenberger.

Cremeans’ wedding was Sept. 10. 

“I would allow Mr. Birkenberger’s class to do more arrangements for me and would definitely recommend this to other people as well,” said Cremeans. “Not only are the products high-quality, but you get to support an incredible agriscience program, as well as give kids the opportunity to see their work excel in a real-world setting.”

“They did amazingly well,” Birkenberger said. “The students were a mix of experienced and novice, and they came together with instructions, photos, and individual talent and cooperation to make quality arrangements for the special occasion.”

John Dominello, the culinary teacher at NHS was invited to attend the wedding, sat next to Cremeans’ parents as well as some of the NHS teachers. 

“I would insult Mr. Birk’s students if I said they weren’t professional arrangements [because] they definitely were,” said Dominello. “I think that if Mr. Birk felt that his students were prepared and qualified, it was the best way to teach real-world skills.” 

The groom himself was also impressed with the finished project. Numerous guests commented on the flowers that were scattered around the venue. 

“The guests were very impressed, as were the photographers,” said Cremeans. “My wife was nearly moved to tears when she saw the arrangements. Everything was professionally done and exceeded our expectations.”

Former Nonnewaug aquaculture teacher Tyler Cremeans, right, got married Sept. 10. Also in attendance were, from left, retired teacher George Lyman, culinary teacher John Dominello, and agriscience director Ed Belinsky. (contributed)