New citizens welcomed by Scarborough students

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SCARBOROUGH — Nearly 60 people from 36 nations stood up March 22 at Scarborough High School to become new American citizens.

The new citizens were greeted and praised in a naturalization ceremony that doubled as a civics lesson for Scarborough students of all ages.

Iginozo Clarisse Uwimana, who arrived in America six years ago after emigrating from Rwanda, easily summarized the group’s emotions.

“I am happy,” she said. “Excited.”

Learning about American history and government was more of a challenge. Uwimana said she listened to a CD to study the questions on the tests required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Applicants for citizenship are tested on their knowledge of civics and their ability to read, speak and write in English.

The new citizens were given very personalized welcomes, beginning with a speech from Wentworth student Ashley Kang, who was born in South Korea.

“When I first arrived, all I could say was ‘hello,”’ Kang recalled.

Whether adapting to seat belt laws or Halloween celebrations, Kang said there is plenty for new citizens to learn and embrace.

“I hope you all find a community you enjoy living in,” she said.

Six Wentworth English-as-a-second-language students created a short video to welcome the new citizens, too. The ceremony keynote address was delivered by Superintendent of Schools George Entwistle III.

After watching her mother, Karen Wipert, originally from New Brunswick, being sworn in as a U.S. citizen, 12-year-old Morgan Wipert said she had mixed emotions.

“It felt kind of weird,” she said. “Now I can’t call her an alien anymore.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Wentworth School fifth-grader Ava McDonald, left, welcomes Rwanda native Igihozo Clarisse Uwimana as a new U.S. citizen March 22 in a naturalization ceremony at Scarborough High School. Uwimana, of Westbrook, was one of 57 people from 36 countries who took the oath of citizenship.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.