Shelton Intermediate School transformed its auditorium into a federal courthouse on Nov. 9 for the purpose of naturalizing 60 new U.S. citizens.  

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service presented these individuals to the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The Honorable Robert M. Spector, U.S. Magistrate Judge presided over two ceremonies that were witnessed by Intermediate School students along with a group of high school students.

School Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet and Shelton Intermediate School Principal Ken Saranich welcomed the citizenship candidates and their guests prior to the National Anthem performed by SIS band students Isabelle Acervida, Greg Uanino and Lily Banks.

SIS Student Council President Angelo Posacreta led the applicants in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

“We are so excited and honored to bring this wonderful opportunity back to our students and staff at Shelton Intermediate School,” Saranich said. “Having this ceremony teaches our students to truly appreciate what our nation offers us.”

SIS Science Curriculum Leader Ernestina Genova served as the keynote speaker for the ceremonies by sharing her personal experiences as an immigrant from the Cape Verde Islands.

“Re-telling my story is a very emotional experience for me,” Genova said. “Each time I share my story publicly, I can feel the surge of emotions and I try to fight back the tears. Not because my story is sad, but rather because it’s an immense source of pride for my Cape Verdean heritage and a great appreciation for the sacrifices my parents made to help give my siblings and me a better life. Without their hard work and encouragement to take advantage of the countless opportunities in the United States, we would not be living the lives we live today. I will be forever indebted to my parents. My experiences as an immigrant has had a significant influence on the person who I am today.”

The event was highlighted by Spector administering the Oath of Allegiance to the naturalized citizens and offering his congratulations and words of encouragement to them and their families. In this unique, educational experience, Spector met with the attending high school students to answer many of their questions related to the naturalization process.

According the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “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.”

Through the work of Valley Regional Adult Education and SIS Social Studies Department, this was the second time in three years that Shelton Intermediate School hosted naturalization ceremonies.