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Published: Friday, 1/30/2009

Students provide personal welcome to newest citizens

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Former Argentine citizen Maria Paula Concepcion Lukac, left, holding her son, Stephan, accepts a welcome gift from Annie Crawford during the naturalization ceremony at DeVeaux Middle School, where 51 people received citizenship. Former Argentine citizen Maria Paula Concepcion Lukac, left, holding her son, Stephan, accepts a welcome gift from Annie Crawford during the naturalization ceremony at DeVeaux Middle School, where 51 people received citizenship.
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Maria Paula Concepcion Lukac hugged and kissed her boys yesterday as she walked back to her seat holding her certificate of naturalization.

Her eyes welled with tears and a big smile stretched across her face as she and 50 other immigrants became American citizens in the naturalization ceremony at DeVeaux Middle School.

"In a way it's like being born again, like getting married again. It's everything," she said.

Slug: CTY NATURALIZATION29p                     Date1/29/2009           The Blade/Amy E. Voigt               Location: Toledo, Ohio  CAPTION: Ermias Gebremichael, right, a former citizen of Ethiopa, shakes hands with Marcy Kaptur, US House of Representatives, during the Naturalization Ceremony at DeVeaux Middle School on January 29, 2008. Slug: CTY NATURALIZATION29p Date1/29/2009 The Blade/Amy E. Voigt Location: Toledo, Ohio CAPTION: Ermias Gebremichael, right, a former citizen of Ethiopa, shakes hands with Marcy Kaptur, US House of Representatives, during the Naturalization Ceremony at DeVeaux Middle School on January 29, 2008.
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With her sons Nicholas, 4, and Stephan, almost 2, and husband Matt Lukac by her side, she said it couldn't have been a more perfect way to become an American.

"It's a wonderful day," said Ms. Lukac, who is from Argentina.

The students at DeVeaux planned the ceremony for months to welcome the 51 new citizens to their new school and their country.

In addition to their certificates, American flags, and information about the country, the participants received individualized welcome letters written by the students

Students in an eighth-grade honors class wrote personal letters to the immigrants that were displayed with a flag from their country and map of the United States. The students wrote about what citizenship means or their favorite thing about the USA.

Former United Kingdom citizen Matthew Reynolds, left, holding his son, Nathan, receives his citizenship certificate from Judge Jack Zouhary of the U.S. District Court in Toledo. Former United Kingdom citizen Matthew Reynolds, left, holding his son, Nathan, receives his citizenship certificate from Judge Jack Zouhary of the U.S. District Court in Toledo.
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"The students did a great job," said Vyacheslav Konstantinovich Fedorchuk, from Ukraine. "It was real exciting to see them get so involved and be so welcoming."

Alex Duncan, an eighth-grade student and vice president of the Student Body Government, said he was glad to be part of the planning and to witness people take the oath of office.

"It was real special for me," said Alex, 13. "I saw all the joy on their faces. It was really big for them."

Zachary Gogol, 13, an eighth-grade student and president of the student government, received a number of compliments on his welcome speech to the new citizens and said it was a good thing for his school to host the ceremony.

"It was very important because I heard a lot of people don't see it, and for us to see it at such a young age was really special," he said.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) was the keynote speaker.

She thanked U.S. District Court Judge Jack Zouhary for including the students "to develop their consciousness that immigrants remind us of the importance of freedom."

Those naturalized and their countries of origin are:

Algeria - Raouida Senouci Bereksi

Argentina - Maria Paula Concepcion Lukac

Belarus - Viktoryia Nikolaevna Maximovich

Bosnia-Herzegovina - Sead Muminovic

Brazil - Emini Barakat

Burundi - Salvator Ndikumagenge

Canada - Joan Irene Dales, Larry George Dales, Ted Seodial Dindyal, Neeru Madan, and Adam William James Westcott

Ethiopia - Ermias Getahun Gebremichael

India - Meerabahen Kirtakumar Pandya, Kirnalkumar Mahendrakumar Patel, and Kyrmen Prakash Thombre

Indonesia - Surya Margono Nauli

Jamaica - Eloise Patricia Rios

Jordan - Nael Zuhair Abdo, Mohammad Abdelrazzaq Ali Hamdalh, and Jawdat Victor Lama

Laos - Inh Cysanah

Lebanon - Jihad Sayed Morkos El Douaihy, Ibrahim Mohamad Moussa, and Hossein Ali Nehmeh

Mexico - Jose Manuel Fernandez Alcala, Raul Aranda, Gracia Hilda Minjares, Martha Romero, and Leticia Zamora

Netherlands - Frans Henricus Maria Ploegmakers

Nigeria - Felicia Onyebuchi Alcorn, and Ogbonnaya Chinenye Kanu

Pakistan - Zafar Hussain, Rabia Shehnaz, and Syed Arif Zafar

Palestine - Sana Mohammed Abu-Hummos

People's Republic of China - Shenglin Romay Chen, Laura Li, Yuan Southworth, and Jiang Tian

Poland - Vladymir Kusmyn

Romania - Monica Deifendeifer, and Corneliu Gabriel Hoffman

Russia - Yekaterina Yevgenyevna Kontar, and Vasiliy Nikolaevich Zorin

South Korea - Pok Hyon Hepperle

Sri Lanka - Ahalapitiya Hewage Jayatissa

Ukraine - Vyacheslav Konstantinovich Fedorchuk

United Kingdom - Raj Kumar Lealh and Matthew Reynolds

Uzbekistan - Davron Anvarovich Alimov

Contact Meghan Gilbert at:

mgilbert@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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