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.
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.
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.
"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
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