Thursday October 19, 2017
Students witnessed a firsthand lesson in civics as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)presented 33 citizenship candidates to the Honorable John M. Conroy, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court of Vermont, at a ceremony held at the Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School (FHTMS) October 11. Judge Conroy presided over the special ceremony and delivered the Oath of Allegiance to America’s newest citizens as students, friends and families observed the event.
The 33 new citizens range in age from 19 to 77. They originate from 17 countries - Bhutan, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Czech Republic, Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.
FHTMS Principal Karsten Schlenter provided welcoming remarks and talked about the richness of his own experience becoming a U.S. citizen two years ago, .
Judge Conroy welcomed the candidates and acknowledged their hard work on the path to U.S. citizenship, saying, “It was a very courageous step to come here to pursue your dreams.” His message was one of hope and encouragement as he quoted author Peggy Noonan, “The American dream is the belief, held by generation after generation since our beginning and reanimated over the decades by waves of immigrants, that here you can start from anywhere and become anything.”
FHTMS teachers Gail Kilkelly and Aimee Bushey led the seventh and eighth grade chorus in the Vermont state song, “These Green Mountains.” The song, which was composed by Diane Martin and arranged by Rita Buglass Gluck, includes the lyrics, “They say home is where the heart is, these green mountains are my home.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, the student body spontaneously rose in a standing ovation to welcome the new Americans with an enthusiastic and heartfelt round of applause.
The USCIS naturalization ceremonies in Vermont are judicial ceremonies with court approval for the purpose of public awareness of the U.S. citizenship process. Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon foreign citizens or nationals after fulfilling the requirements established by Congress. After naturalization, foreign-born citizens enjoy nearly all the same benefits, rights and responsibilities that the Constitution gives to native-born U.S. citizens, including the right to vote. During fiscal year 2016, just over 750,000 people were naturalized at ceremonies throughout the country and around the world, including over 650 individuals through the St. Albans field office. As of July 2017, the St. Albans field office has approved over 580 individuals for naturalization.