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Our Lady of Lourdes School hosts naturalization ceremony

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ST. LAWRENCE DEANERY — Students at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Cincinnati witnessed a piece of history Sept. 10 when 81 people became new Americans during a naturalization ceremony at the school.

Vinay Hardas and Padmaja Bivre
Vinay Hardas and Padmaja Bivre, both from India, pledge their allegiance to the United States. Additional photos can be viewed here. (CT/Colleen Kelley)

The citizens represented nearly 40 different countries. U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Wehrman presided over the ceremony. Other guests included former Congressman Steve Chabot and Ohio Court of Appeals Judge Patrick Dinkelacker, both Our Lady of Lourdes parishioners and parents of school alumni.

The ceremony transformed the school’s gymnasium into a massive courtroom and featured patriotic songs by the school’s junior high school choir, comments by principal Aimee Ellmaker and an invocation by Father David Sunberg, pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.

The process created a number of educational opportunities for teachers and students, Ellmaker said. Teachers educated students on how people become U.S. citizens and on the privileges and rights of naturalization. The process can be used in many classes including social studies, government, geography and even math, she noted, and students in a geography class can learn to identify  on a globe the various countries from which the new citizens came.
 
“This is a wonderful experience for the students and teachers, and they can take the experience and apply it other studies. Educationally, the benefits are tremendous,” Ellmaker said. “It’s a platform for them to see the process actually work rather than just read about it in a textbook. It’s not something that happens every day.”

After the ceremony Ellmaker and Father Sunburg visited classrooms to gauge students’ reaction to the ceremony.

“They were in awe of what actually transpired,” Ellmaker said. “They were very proud of their country.”

The students were surprised at the number and age range of the new citizens. They were also impressed with the formality and seriousness of the event, Ellmaker said.

“I would have to concur with the kids that it was an honor,” Ellmaker said. “It reaffirmed why I live where I live.”

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