Thursday, 19 March 2015 07:00 | Written by
Inna Wilson could hardly contain her excitement as she stepped onstage to receive her certificate as a new American citizen.
The ceremony was the culmination of a trimester-long lesson plan for the seventh- and eighth-grade students at the K-8 school in Southwest Portland.
“Our students have learned a little bit this past trimester about the challenging topic of immigration,” school director Anne Gurnee told the new citizens. “However, you all have lived it.”
During the ceremony, the school’s seventh-graders sang the national anthem and the new citizens took the Oath of Allegiance and said the Pledge of Allegiance together before walking onstage individually to receive their certificates.
Ceremony participants hailed from India, Fiji, Spain, Russia, Canada, Mexico, Ukraine, Guatemala, Romania and Brazil.
The students decorated the auditorium with flags from each participant’s home country and supplied food for a potluck — complete with an American flag cake for dessert. After the ceremony, several students, including seventh-grader Becca Gurnee and eighth-grader William Britton, interviewed the new citizens to learn their stories.
“It’s been interesting to know the hardships that people go through to gain a lifestyle that we’ve been living our entire lives,” William said.
Students read books about immigration and researched the home countries of the participants. Prior to this trimester, Becca said, “I’ve not really heard about immigration very often, or about things that happen to people, or about how hard they work to come here and how many risks they take.