2013-03-29 / Front Page

Final step in citizenship voyage

Scarborough schools participate in naturalization ceremony
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

This Fourth of July will not just be another day for more than the 50 citizens who came together last week at a naturalization ceremony at Scarborough High School. It will be the first time they can celebrate the independence holiday as citizens of the United States.

The ceremony, which took place Friday, March 22, was a collaboration between United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Scarborough Middle School and Wentworth Intermediate School.

Hernaldo Baltano of Old Orchard Beach said he came to this country six years ago from Costa Rica to live the American dream.

“(I came here) to be part of this nation, to be part of the freedom of this nation and to be a supportive part of the community I live in,” said Baltano, whose family is still in Costa Rica.

“I feel proud,” he said when asked how it felt to be a citizen of the United States. “It was a long process. To be an American citizen is something of happiness for me. I feel an important step was accomplished.”


More than 50 citizens from across the state of Maine took an oath of allegiance, the last step in becoming citizens of the United States. The naturalization ceremony took place Friday, March 22 at Scarborough High School. Left, students from Wentworth Intermediate School’s K-Kids service club hand new citizens handmade congratulation cards. Many of the district’s students were on hand for the ceremony. Superintendent George Entwistle said the event provided a valuable civics lesson. For more photos, visit the Scarborough Leader on Facebook. (Michael Kelley photos) More than 50 citizens from across the state of Maine took an oath of allegiance, the last step in becoming citizens of the United States. The naturalization ceremony took place Friday, March 22 at Scarborough High School. Left, students from Wentworth Intermediate School’s K-Kids service club hand new citizens handmade congratulation cards. Many of the district’s students were on hand for the ceremony. Superintendent George Entwistle said the event provided a valuable civics lesson. For more photos, visit the Scarborough Leader on Facebook. (Michael Kelley photos) Kurt Pelletier, an immigration services officer with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, said becoming an official citizen of the United States is the first step toward a better future for many of the individuals.

“View your citizenship as a way to shape a better future for yourself, your family, your community and now your country,” he told the new citizens, who represented more than 35 countries.

Khoung Lim, a 22-year-old from South Portland, originally came to this country five years ago from Cambodia to pursue higher education. Lim is a third-year student at the University of Southern Maine and is studying pre-med.

“It’s difficult because English is my second language,” Lim said.

Lim is the only member of his family who is a United States citizen, but he said his brother will be going through the process soon.

Wentworth Intermediate School Principal Anne Mayre Dexter, who helped to organize the ceremony, welcomed Lim and his fellow new United States citizens with open arms.

“Each one of you add to the fabric of America,” Dexter said. “You offer your knowledge and skills, which help us build a better and stronger community.”


Newly sworn United States citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance along with students from the Wentworth Intermediate School Civil Rights Team during a naturalization ceremony at the high school last week. (Michael Kelley photo) Newly sworn United States citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance along with students from the Wentworth Intermediate School Civil Rights Team during a naturalization ceremony at the high school last week. (Michael Kelley photo) The process of becoming a United States citizen is nothing short of exhaustive. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, new citizens must pass tests in English and civics that includes questions about United States history and government, as well as be interviewed by a representative of United States Citizenship and Naturalization Services. Just prior to being granted United States citizenship, individuals must take an oath renouncing allegiance to foreign governments and leaders, as well as a willingness to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States” and abide by other federal obligations and laws.

Lucielie Marshall of Dover-Foxcroft said she is glad to get through the process and obtain citizenship.

“It was a very beautiful ceremony,” said Marshall, who came to the United States from the Philippines eight years ago. “I am happy to be done with the process and I am proud to be part of America now.”

The new citizens were not the only group at the ceremony to get a dose of patriotism through a video message from President Barack Obama and a short video of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”

Many of the district’s students took part in the ceremony, including the Scarborough Middle School jazz band; the Wentworth Intermediate civil rights team, which led the Pledge of Allegiance; and Wentworth Intermediate’s K-Kids, who served as ushers and presented each new citizen with a congratulations card. Members of Wentworth’s English as a Second Language program, who include Gula Rahmonkulova, Maria Mohamed, Jason Kang, Christian Casanas, Vitaliy Popov and Joshua Deanda-Whaley, created a video highlighting what they liked about living in Scarborough.

“It really is a great opportunity to see some really great things in action for these students are they learn about citizenship and government,” Superintendent George Entwistle said before the ceremony.

In fact, he said during his brief remarks, he said because the Scarborough School District is tasked with creating responsible and successful learners and citizens, he could think of no better place for such a ceremony that one of the district schools.

Dexter said the Wentworth K-Kids and civil rights students were asked to fill out a worksheet about the ceremony to share with their classmates.

“They are going to go back into the classroom and share what they learned and provide everyone an opportunity to know what this was like for them,” she said.

The ceremony, Dexter added, was recorded for future use in Scarborough schools.

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