Swing couple thinks inside the box

Karen Danner
Boxed: Illinois Valley Central sophomores Cody Boswell and Stephanie Hawkins stand inside a box Hawkins designed as a way to ask Boswell to be her date for Swing March 14.

Making a date for Swing gave Illinois Valley Central High School sophomore Stephanie Hawkins just one more chance to show her creative side.

And how she asked her date to go to the dance should have come as no surprise to sophomore Cody Boswell, who has been on the receiving end of Hawkins’ cleverness more than once.

This time, however, he got a little scare before he said yes at the one time of the year when the girls ask the boys to Swing.

Each day the first week of February, Hawkins put an envelope on Boswell’s locker containing a poem.

The poem gave clues to a person he had to find, and, if correct, that person gave him a puzzle piece.

In on the surprise were several of Hawkins’ friends and a couple of IVC teachers.

By the end of the week when he put all the pieces of the puzzle together, he could see a phone number he was to call and a car would pick him up.

Hawkins, an avid soccer player who likes to volunteer and dabble in art, decided her surprise would include a large box purchased at P.S. Fast License.

At home, she decorated it with a huge bow and a large gift tag that said, “To Cody.”

Originally, she planned to leap out of the box at Shore Acres Park Feb. 6, but, at the last minute, moved her surprise to the South School playground.

That Friday, after eating at Pizza Hut with his dad, Boswell entered a vehicle driven by Hawkins’ mother, Patti.

Patti placed a pillowcase over his head and drove him around “just to kind of confuse him,” said Hawkins.

When they arrived at South School, Boswell was even more confused when Patti handed him a flashlight and instructed him to head for the playground.

Hawkins had waited patiently inside the large box, even though a large dog stopped by to check it out earlier.

“The dog came up and sniffed the box, and I thought he was going to eat me,” said Hawkins.

In the darkness, a bewildered Boswell finally located the huge box, but when Hawkins jumped out and threw confetti, a scared Boswell ran.

“I had a shirt with ‘Swing’ on it, but all I saw was his back,” said Hawkins.

Finally, Boswell came back, Hawkins asked him to Swing, and he said yes as he jumped inside the box with her.

As her mother approached the area, the two jumped out at her, then they all headed back to Hawkins’ house to watch the movie “Madagascar.”

Hawkins and Boswell have dated, on and off, for the past year.

At Christmas, Hawkins again put the box idea to good use.

She purchased a large box, with several smaller boxes in graduating sizes inside. Then she Scotch taped the entire outside box.

“It was completely covered with tape,” said Hawkins. “Inside was a hooded sweatshirt.”

Also in December before she left on vacation, she used boxes again, only this time, there was a stuffed animal camel inside. Her pet name for Boswell is “camel.”

The couple met when they had freshman classes together at IVC. She was a St. Edward Catholic School graduate, and he attended Chillicothe Elementary Center.

“It’s really fun for me, and sometimes it embarrasses him because he’s shy,” said Hawkins. “I like to do a lot of creative things.”

For Valentine’s Day, she compiled a scrapbook with pictures of the two of them together.

This is not their first dance together, since they attended Swing as a couple as freshmen.

She already has her dress for Swing. “It’s a black tube-top dress that’s really, really sparkly with glitter all over it.”

She also has her date ready for the dance March 14, someone with whom she said she enjoys spending time.

“Cody plays football and runs track, and he is really funny and gets along with everybody,” said Hawkins.

“He makes me laugh. No matter what’s wrong with me, he makes me feel better. We always challenge each other to do better. We can have fun doing anything. We can watch kids’ movies or

just sit and do nothing and we can have fun.”

Hawkins’ future plans include joining the Coast Guard Academy and becoming a rescue swimmer and attending advanced camp for the Coast Guard.

She is currently lifeguard and scuba diving certified. She also trains year round at the John Gaspar Soccer Center in Peoria Heights.