Teacher Hides His Wedding From Students Fearing Disapproval Over Fiancé, But They Sing To Show Their Support
Feb 16, 2021 by apost team
It isn't always easy to live as your most authentic self, especially when you're not sure how those closest to you will react. You might be worried about being abandoned, ostracized, bullied or simply forgotten. Even those who seem beloved — like the man in this story — are sometimes too afraid to live as their true selves.
Christopher Landis works at Hingham Middle School in Hingham, Massachusetts. He is the school's choir director and has quickly become a cherished figure there. When he got engaged to his long-term partner, Joseph Michienzie, he wasn't sure how his students would react upon finding out that he would have a husband soon. He kept the news under wraps for quite a while until the wedding day when he got the surprise of a lifetime. Not only did many of his students miss school to make Landis' day, but the entire school community seemed to pitch in.
This story explores Landis' predicament and how the Hingham Middle School community ensured that this dedicated choir teacher would feel welcome regardless of his sexual orientation. And luckily, the school's heartfelt gesture was captured on video back in January 2019. Since the video's upload, it has accumulated more than 100,000 views, hundreds of likes and dozens of sweet comments.
"In a world of what seems like constant bad news, this is an oasis of charm that shows that, actually, on the whole, people are pretty good," the below video's top-rated from George Forth comment reads.
Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-)
All of us are worried about being judged by the people we love the most. This fear is prevalent all over the world and sometimes causes us to hide things about ourselves that we should be celebrating instead. This was the case for middle school choir teacher Landis, who was nervous to share that he was engaged to be married to his partner, Michienzie. Landis had worked as a choir director at Hingham Middle School in Hingham, Massachusetts, for six years at the time.
Whenever his partner would come by, his students would question Landis about the person who would meet him, to which Landis would say, "just a friend," according to Inside Edition. “The kids will ask ‘Who is that?’ I'll say, 'That's Joe. He's my friend.' And it just hit me here that I always referred to him as my friend because I wasn't sure how the kids would take it or the parents,” Landis said.
According to the New York Times, Landis and Michienzie got engaged on Christmas Eve of 2016, but they had remained quiet for a long time about the nature of their relationship. However, word got out in 2018 that Landis was to be married soon, and the students and teachers at the school did not want to let Landis keep feeling like he had to worry about what they thought of his relationship. With the wedding coming up very soon, a plan was hatched about how to best support Landis during this important time in his life.
Two women, Joy Foraste and Margit Foley, worked together to organize the surprise for Landis. “At the end of the summer, Margit and I heard he was getting married. He’s the best teacher, and he’s got this great energy, and he makes every school function fun. We thought, wouldn’t it be awesome to do something for his wedding?” Foraste told the New York Times. The two young women got together and began emailing parents to ask their student singers if they would be willing to participate in a surprise for Landis' wedding. They wanted to make sure that there was no pressure to join. Participation was completely voluntary.
"We hoped we’d get at least 15 kids to do it," said Foraste, who was worried about whether enough students would be available during the holidays. However, out of the 70 choir members, 50 were able to commit to the surprise event for Landis. This led to four weeks of secret rehearsals on Sundays at the James Library in Norwell, Massachusetts, which was headed and directed by Dona Maher, a colleague of Landis who gives piano and singing lessons, according to the New York Times. Moreover, students had to get permission from their principal for missing the Friday that Landis and Michienzie were to marry, with some even skipping lunch to make sure they were there! It is clear that these students loved their teacher and wanted to make his day really special. It also speaks volumes about what a wonderful teacher Landis is to his students.
The big day was finally there, and the plan was set into motion! The wedding day was set just before Christmas, and while the rehearsal brunch, which was set on Dec. 21 at the Tavern on the Wharf in Plymouth, Massachusetts. was going on, Landis noticed something strange happening. His now-husband Michienzie was in on the plan all along, helping Foraste and Foley execute the plan, so knew what was about to happen.
“I noticed everyone was holding video cameras and I was like ‘What’s going on?’” Landis told Inside Edition as he recalled the day. “Then 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. Then I started crying and they started crying.”
The students all filed in together and began singing "All You Need Is Love" by The Beatles; it was essentially a serenade for Landis and Michienzie that celebrated their love. The students had wanted to show their teacher their support for his big day and had done it in the best way possible. At that moment, he knew that his relationship was worthy of celebration, not judgment. He had nothing to fear. All of his students and their families supported Christopher and his marriage to Joe. "I felt like when the kids came to sing they were basically saying, 'It's OK. We know who Joe is.' So now I say, 'Joe, my husband,'" Landis said.
The gesture visibly moved Landis. “I still get choked up watching it,” Michienzie told the New York Times. The video was recorded by a bartender at the rehearsal brunch location, and once it was uploaded onto Facebook, it made waves.
"I was flabbergasted by how much they cared," Landis told the New York Times. "As a middle-school teacher, I see students struggling so much with trying to figure out who they are," he added. "Some of the students singing have inner struggles, and things I know about going on at home. I was so glad they were there, feeling the love in the room and knowing everything’s going to be OK, that things do work out."
Landis told Inside Edition that he has always aimed to create a safe space for his students in his classroom, so seeing his students showing him the same thing is a heartwarming gesture. For many of us, a great teacher was the beginning of a huge positive change in our lives. Be it encouragement, a push in the right direction or just an effort to listen to us and be there for us, teachers are some of the most impactful people we come across in our lives. It's likely that Landis is the type of teacher that students will remember for the rest of their lives, just as Landis will never forget the students who made his wedding so memorable. These students showed everyone who watches this video that love truly is all we need.
We're all afraid of judgment in different ways. Has someone ever reached out to you as reassurance? Let us know in the comments, and pass this along to your friends and family to inspire them today!