Friday, March 22, 2013

The civics lesson of a lifetime

I wish that everyone in the Worthington community could have been at Worthington Kilbourne High School this morning to see this:

The picture needs a bit of explanation. Worthington Kilbourne Assistant Principal Kevin Johnson had an idea that he thought he would run by his acquaintance, Judge Michael H. Watson of the US District Court, Southern District of Ohio. Would it be possible for Judge Watson to have a United States Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony in a public high school?  After many meetings between Mr. Johnson and the Judge's staff, it came to pass and that event happened today.

Seventy individuals as young as 18 and as old as 82 filed into the WKHS auditorium to take the oath of citizenship (pictured above) and become United States Citizens. Watching them along with family and friends were hundreds of high school seniors  getting what had to be the civics lesson of a lifetime. These people came to our country, for some, decades ago and have been pursuing citizenship in some cases for years. For them, today was the culmination of a  dream. Judge Watson asked each person to state what citizenship meant to them. For some, it meant the gaining of the same rights as all Americans have. For others, it meant joining their family as citizens. What our students witnessed were people who worked hard and played by the rules, all to get something which they obtained, for the most part, simply by being born in this country. It is unlikely that these kids (or the adults) will view their status as American citizens in quite the same way.

Mr. Johnson organized quite a show, including "The Star Spangled Banner" from the WKHS marching band, America the Beautiful from the WKHS choir and a fantastic keynote address from WKHS parent Reverend Timothy Ahrens.  Reverend Ahrens noted that most of us are second or third generation Americans whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents came from somewhere else. The ceremony concluded with a rendition of "Proud to be an American" which was meant to be only on video but wound up being sung spontaneously by everyone in attendance.

The Dispatch covered the event.

What was learned this morning won't show up on the state report card and can't be assessed by a proficiency test, but in my opinion, was as important a learning experience as anything our seniors will experience this year. Thanks to WKHS Assistant Principal Kevin Johnson and the entire WKHS team for making it happen.


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