A New Birth of Freedom
A New Birth of Freedom
Posted on 11/06/2018
US Naturalization Ceremony Documents

On Monday, October 29, 2018, Utica Community School’s Adult Education (AE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) staff members Stephen Anderson, Mark Morgan and Landon Polley, had the opportunity to witness a United States naturalization ceremony at the Federal Courthouse in Detroit. With family and friends surrounding them, a total of 78 men and women, representing 23 nations from around the world, proudly took part in the ceremony, officiated by Federal Judge Victoria A. Roberts.  To be eligible for naturalization, green card holders must meet a series of stringent requirements, demonstrating their commitment to our country, including:  the ability to speak, read and write basic English, have an understanding of U.S. history and government, support the principals and ideas of the U.S. Constitution and be willing to swear an Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America. 

It was both a privilege and honor to have UCS staff members present at this ceremony.  AE/ESL teacher Landon Polley, said he,  "felt chills, as he realized that those who became American citizens moments earlier, were mouthing Lincoln’s words by heart as the judge spoke.  They knew the words that gave a “new birth of freedom” to so many 153 years ago".  Supervisor of Adult Education, Stephen Anderson said, “The ceremony, much like our program, represents what makes our nation special.  Men, women and children, young and old, from countries spanning the globe, coming together for a new beginning, each road a different journey to one destination, a new home.  Each of these individual stories forming a collection of voices to make our great nation whole.”

Several other things stood out to our staff as they witnessed the momentous occasion:  a little girl in a red, white and blue dress, warmly embraced her grandmother when the elder obtained her citizenship papers; a young man wiped away tears upon shaking the judge’s hand; and the perked ears of all those present when the magistrate quoted President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. 
The naturalization process is no easy feat and for those participating in the ceremony that day, it was clear they had earned their right to United States citizenship. To conclude the ceremony, the Honorable Judge Roberts reminded these new citizens that, “We are a nation of scars, and by becoming citizens, you inherit these scars; however, you are now part of the bright future moving forward”.

As part of the citizenship curriculum, ESL students participate in a two-week long voter education lesson.  This lesson includes completing voter registration forms.  Program administrators then submit those forms on behalf of their eligible students.  This is a great learning opportunity for both current citizens who have not yet registered to vote as well as those seeking naturalization.

Each year, Utica Community Schools enrolls an average of 850 English as a Second Language students from 85 different nationalities, many of which are on the path to naturalization and working hard to achieve that goal.  The department is one of the largest and most successful Adult Education programs in the State.  When combined with ESL, the Adult Education program services upwards of 1,250 students each year.  This year alone, several students have completed their naturalization requirements to obtain citizenship and close to 60 adult students have obtained High School Diplomas or GED’s and went on to pursue higher education at colleges and universities throughout the state.

Utica Community Schools Adult Education and English as a Second Language programs welcome anyone interested in improving their English skills, preparing for the citizenship exam and/or seeks to further their education.  Learn more about these programs by visiting www.ucscommunityeducation.com or call 586-797-6906 (AE)/586-797-6960 (ESL)