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OAES Teacher Among Those Sworn in as New U.S. Citizens

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OAES Teacher Among Those Sworn in as New U.S. Citizens
Posted on 03/11/2016
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An Ocean Avenue Elementary School teacher was among 57 new U.S. citizens sworn in at the East End Community  School March 11, when the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) held a naturalization ceremony at the school.

Among those taking the Oath of Allegiance was Emily Parr, a special education teacher at the Ocean Avenue School. Originally from the United Kingdom, Parr has lived in the United States since 2004 and one of her main reasons for becoming a citizen was to be able to vote and be active in the decisions of her community, state and country.

“I've built a wonderful life here, have had my children here, and want to continue to do anything I can – through the ballot box, or in public education – to make the United States a place where opportunity awaits for all,” Parr said.

The new citizens originate from the following countries:  Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Congo, Congo-Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, Haiti, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Serbia, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Korea, Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

They reside in the following Maine cities and towns: Augusta, Bangor, Biddeford, Boothbay Harbor, Cape Elizabeth, Corinth, Damariscotta, Freeport, Hallowell, Harpswell, Kennebunk, Lewiston, Mechanic Falls, North Berwick, Portland, Pownal, Scarborough, Standish, South Portland, Waterville, Westbrook, Yarmouth, and Woolwich.

Marcia Gendron, principal of East End Community School, made the opening remarks. She said that about 40 percent of the school’s students are from families that are new to the United States. The school teaches students to be good citizens and the naturalization ceremony helps students understand what citizenship means, Gendron said.

Portland Interim Superintendent Jeanne Crocker also spoke, praising Parr and the other new citizens as inspirational.

Kurt Pelletier, Immigration Services Officer, congratulated the new Americans on the “hard work and dedication that have led you here.” He told them, “You now have the opportunity to shape a better future for yourself, your family and now your country.” He urged them to use their new citizenship to get involved, by doing such things as voting.

Pelletier also thanked school staff and students for hosting the event.

A group of students recited poems they wrote on the topic of immigration. Special musical selections were performed by the East End Community School Glee All-Star Singers, led by music teacher and Dean of Students Dan Nogar. Pelletier thanked Nogar for leading the organization of the event.

PHOTO CAPTIONS: (Top) Ocean Avenue Elementary School teacher Emily Parr poses with her family after becoming a U.S. citizen.

(Below) East End Community School Glee All-Star Singers sing patriotic songs at the naturalization, with music teacher Dan Nogar conducting; the singers start off the ceremony with song; a group of EECS students recites poetry.
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