On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, eighth grade U.S. History students from Spanish Fork Junior High School were privileged to watch a Naturalization Ceremony at the Jeanné Rose Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake City at 10:00 a.m. Some of Spanish Fork’s students were honored with the chance to participate in this program, including Jocelyn Baker, a ninth grader, who gave a speech; Sariah Lee, McKenzie Vest, Olivia Christian, Kenny VanAusdal, and Brandon Baum, who sang our national anthem; and Jason Money, Adam Boden, and Erik Johnson, who performed the posting of the colors and flag ceremony.
The program commenced with the national anthem and the posting of the colors, after which Jocelyn Baker gave a speech congratulating the new citizens. Asking them to think about their life, she said, “Your past, present, and future are determined by your choices. You, in effect, write your own story by the decisions that you make.” She continued to talk about responsibilities that come with freedom, such as paying taxes, serving on jury duty, reporting crimes, and voting.
Students were able to see 197 immigrants from 54 different countries sworn into the United States of America. The immigrants were from countries all over the world, including Mexico, Canada, Peru, Vietnam, China, Colombia, Brazil, and El Salvador, and were of all ages, ranging from 19 to 79. To end the ceremony, Judge Samuel Alba gave remarks on his journey becoming a naturalized citizen and asked the new citizens to say a few words about their feelings. New citizens commented on their gratitude for our great nation, as well as education, freedom of religion, liberty, and peace. After the Naturalization Ceremony, students ate lunch and toured the State Capitol Building. It was an interesting opportunity for these eighth graders to learn about America’s government, and to be grateful for the nation in which they live.