Retiring Hingham Middle School principal Rodger Boddie has perhaps the most memorable going-away present in Hingham history – a flash mob comprising hundreds of students and staff.
The crowd of choreographed teens and adults, some bearing signs and others dressed in neon colors, strode out to the parking lot of Hingham Middle School on June 6 to surprise the 36-year veteran of the school system.
Meanwhile, an unaware Boddie led cameras on what he thought was a tour of the new Middle School, under construction next door. Once he got to the roof, Boddie saw the entire student body in the parking lot below.
“When I saw everybody out there -- when I first saw them -- I thought the fire alarm must have gone off and I didn’t realize it,” Boddie said a week after the event. “I called them on the radio, ‘What’s going on?’ And they said, ‘Oh, nothing,’ and I see kids in a circle. ... We don’t go in a circle for a fire alarm. I knew I had been had.”
In a video captured by Hingham Community Access Television, Boddie’s confusion turns to shock and turns to gratitude, as students and staff dance to “Don’t Stop Believing,” signs held high in the background thanking Boddie for believing in the school community.
“It was so nicely done. I just don’t know of anyone else that’s happened to,” Boddie said.
The event took less than two weeks to put together, said Katherine Forbes, president of the Hingham Education Foundation and a member of the school’s PTO, and one of the organizers of the event.
Forbes said the idea for the flash mob came from assistant principal David Riordan, who asked the school’s PTO if its members could help pull it together.
Forbes immediately thought of Hingham Community Center dance teacher Jenn Feeney, and soon had asked her to participate.
“We wouldn’t have been able to pull it off if we didn’t have her instruction,” Forbes said.
As Feeney got going teaching several of her students and some teachers the routine, the art classes at Hingham Middle School got to work, making the signs to be held up in the background. Meanwhile, Hingham TV was brought on board to capture the event.
“We didn’t know if it would be a complete flop. To have the kids keep it secret and the timing of it all was very sketchy. I was keeping my fingers crossed,” Forbes said.
Organizers said the effort was well worth it, especially to thank Boddie for his decades of service to Hingham Public Schools.
Not only has Boddie been the principal of Hingham Middle School for the last nine years, he also served as a high school teacher and a high school assistant principal, as well as working at one of the town’s now extinct junior high schools.
“Boddie is just a wonderful guy,” Forbes said. “He has a great sense of humor, he’ll be dearly missed at the middle school, and I think it was something fun to do as a tribute to him. And it was a great thing for the whole school to be involved with, and exciting and fun for them.”
The moment highlighted the bittersweet feeling of retiring, Boddie said, saying he’ll miss both the kids and the staff.
Though described as a very humble man, Boddie will be able to soak in the moment a little while longer. His last day happens to be his 58th birthday, on Aug. 19.
In the meantime, the farewell has only amplified Boddie’s mixed feelings about leaving
“I think I’m confused right now. I know I should be really happy, and I am. I think I probably feel the same way a sixth-grade student would feel coming into the building. They are excited, but they don’t know what it's about, but they are looking forward to it,” Boddie said.