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Former Congressman Lou Frey delivered inspiring remarks at a special Naturalization Ceremony at Edgewater High School

Orange County Public Schools


On Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, Edgewater High School, 3100 Edgewater Drive, Orlando, FL 32804 hosted a naturalization ceremony conducted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), with the support of Lou Frey Institute's Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and Citizenship Counts, a national nonprofit organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. Fifty individuals from 23 different countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens during this special ceremony. Former Congressman and founder of the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida, Lou Frey, spoke about the value of American citizenship, what America means to him, and the importance of giving back to the community. Over the last 10 years, the institute has received national and international recognition for its efforts promoting the development of enlightened, responsible, and actively-engaged citizens. Ruth Dorochoff, the District Director of USCIS District 10, administered the Oath of Allegiance.

Orange County Public School (OCPS) partnered with Lou Frey Institute's Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and Citizenship Counts to create an experiential learning opportunity for students to educate them about the naturalization process and give them a unique opportunity to participate in an authentic naturalization ceremony. More than 350 students from Carver, Discovery, and Lee middle schools attended and witnessed the naturalization ceremony. Nearly 100 Edgewater High School students were also in the audience.

Janie Phelps, K-12 Social Studies specialist for OCPS said, "We are very excited to be able to provide our students this unique opportunity to observe citizenship in the making. While not every student will be able to attend the actual ceremony, we will be able to share lesson plans from Citizenship Counts and will have created a video of the ceremony that we can stream to schools. This partnership with Citizenship Counts and Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is making citizenship a reality for thousands of OCPS students."

The Citizenship Counts lesson plans educate today's youth about their rights and responsibilities as citizens of the United States and encourage them to appreciate and celebrate diversity in their classroom and community. The program inspires students by providing an opportunity to participate in the democratic process while building a better understanding of the value and responsibilities of citizenship. Their studies culminate with students assisting with an official naturalization ceremony, the important moment when foreign nationals pledge allegiance to this country and take on all of the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.

"No matter what else we do in life, we are all citizens of this republic and each of us has both the rights and the responsibilities that come with that citizenship. In a busy and changing world, it is easy to take the privileges of citizenship for granted and to put off the responsibilities. Working with Citizenship Counts and Orange County Public Schools to teach the lessons citizenship in the classroom and experience the gravity of an actual naturalization ceremony has provided a way to crystalize the true importance of their status as citizens for hundreds of OCPS students," said Dr. Doug Dobson, Executive Director for the Lou Frey's Institute's Florida Joint Center for Citizenship.