U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently presented 20 citizenship candidates originating from 13 countries to the Monroe County Family Court during a ceremony at Florence Brasser Elementary School in Chili.
The event started with Justice James Walsh providing opening remarks, followed by welcome speeches from Justice Charles Siragusa, Principal Timothy Young and Carol Stehm, interim superintendent for the Gates Chili Central School District.
“Just like our great nation, Gates Chili is diverse and full of opportunity,” Stehm said. “We are honored to be a part of your story and your journey to citizenship.”
Students in grades K-5 led the citizens and guests in singing “This Land is Your Land.”
A motion then was made by a USCIS officer, followed by the administration of oaths from County Clerk Adam Bello, making the citizenship candidates official U.S. citizens. The room of American citizens then recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The presentation of certificates of citizenship came next and the entire event was wrapped up with a final song by the fifth grade band students as they performed “America the Beautiful.”
Having the ceremony in GCCSD made it an extra special day for Samirah Whalen. The newly naturalized citizen and mom of four Neil Armstrong Elementary School students came to the U.S. nine years ago from Indonesia.
“I’m proud to say I’m now an American citizen,” she said. “Having my girls there watching me take my oath made it even more memorable. They know where I am from, and they know what an incredible journey it has been for me to get and make the U.S. my home.”