A witness to history at St. Paul Academy and Summit School

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- "Let me welcome everybody to this very special session for the District Court for the State of Minnesota," said Judge Franklin Noel, magistrate with the U.S. District Court.

People from 18 different nations are about to embark on a new chapter of their lives, as U.S. citizens.

Watching them is the 8th grade class of St. Paul Academy and Summit School.

For four years, the school has hosted a naturalization ceremony as part of the school's 8th grade social studies class.

"Before this I took it for granted," said 8th grader Maya Shrestha. Her father is from Nepal, and and she understands the process of attaining one's citizenship is not easy.

"They have to go through so much more," Shrestha said.

"We got through a lot of the Constitution issues, and we talk a lot about how the immigration test, and the things they need to know about the Constitution on that are much more complex than your average American knows," said social studies teacher Andrew Roy.

Roy, and fellow teacher Chris Minn, who dreamed up the idea to host a naturalization ceremony, make sure students are well-versed on the test by the time this unit is over.

Nothing, however, has the impact of seeing it unfold in person.

"I will support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States," repeated the emerging citizens as the 8th grade hung on their every word.

"It reminds them," said middle school principal Jill Romans, "this is real. It matters. This is changing people's lives right now."

Not just the newly minted U.S. citizens in the room, but also those of the students who got to watch.

"I think I really appreciate it more to be able to see it and have it happen right in front of me," said Shrestha.

Schools interested in hosting a naturalization ceremony can do so by contacting the court clerk's office for U.S. District Court.

For a list of other schools that have hosted ceremonies, click here.


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