Lyman Moore Middle School students enhanced their understanding of what it means to be an American when the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalized 30 candidates for citizenship during a ceremony at the school on Friday, April 7.
“It was our first Naturalization Ceremony since the pandemic, restarting a tradition that goes back several decades,” said grade 6-7 social studies teacher David Hilton, who led the effort to have the school host the ceremony. “Students have been learning about Ellis Island and Angel Island and exploring their own identities in this unit as they make connections between their own family history and America's tradition of immigration.”
Lyman Moore Middle School teacher Jon Roderick provided welcoming remarks at the morning ceremony. Portland Board of Public Education Vice Chair Abusana “Micky” Bondo, program director of In Her Presence, a Portland-based non-profit that empowers immigrant women and families, provided keynote remarks to Maine’s newest citizens. Bondo, who is originally from Democratic Republic of the Congo and came to this country in 1996, noted that the process of becoming a citizen is very challenging but told the new Americans that “the reward of the journey is today.”
Lyman Moore’s school chorus and band performed the national anthem and other musical selections. Students also led the Pledge of Allegiance and recited “The New Colossus,” a poem that is engraved on the Statue of Liberty.
USCIS Supervisory Immigration Services Officer Kurt Pelletier administered the Oath of Allegiance to the candidates.
The 30 new citizens originated from the following 20 countries: Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Vietnam.
See the following media coverage of the event:
WTMW Channel 8 TV story: “'A special day for me': Maine students help welcome new US citizens.”
Portland Press Herald story: “Thirty Mainers become citizens at joyful naturalization ceremony.”
Here are some photos: