A Massachusetts teacher became visibly emotional after dozens of students dropped by his wedding rehearsal for a powerful performance.
A Jan. 11 video posted on the Hingham Public Schools’ Facebook page showed Christopher Landis wiping away tears as his students perform The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” for him and his now-husband, Joe Michienzie.
Though the footage was shot at Landis and Michienzie’s Dec. 21 rehearsal brunch at Tavern on the Wharf in Plymouth, Massachusetts, it continues to make headlines more than a month later. As of Monday afternoon, the clip had been featured on Inside Edition and in The New York Times and viewed more than 895,000 times.
Landis, who is the choir director at Hingham Middle School in Hingham, Massachusetts, told Inside Edition that he was initially perplexed when he noticed some of his guests holding video cameras.
“I saw the first student come in and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness,’ but I don’t think it hit me until all of these students came in and they were smiling and all dressed up,” he said. “Then I started crying and they started crying.”
Though Landis has taught at Hingham Middle School for six years, he said he’d initially kept quiet about his engagement to Michienzie since he wasn’t sure how his students would react to him having a husband.
Eventually, word got out, and two mothers of Hingham Middle School choir members decided to take it upon themselves to organize a special surprise for Landis and Michienzie before the big day.
“He’s the best teacher, and he’s got this great energy, and he makes every school function fun,” Margit Foley, one of the organizers, told The New York Times. In fall 2018, she and Joy Foraste began contacting other parents of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade choir members in hopes of getting around 15 students to participate. In the end, they reportedly had more than 50.
Thanks to the performance, Landis said he’s now comfortable with referring to Michienzie as his husband to his pupils. Ultimately, he hopes viewers take away their own message of self-empowerment from the clip, too.
“There might be a student in that choir that could be struggling at home [or] at school,” he said. “To see the love that was in that room lets them know that everything’s going to be OK.”