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Students Witness Democracy through Naturalization Ceremony

Lake George Jr.-Sr. High School students were able to watch democracy in action on Friday, March 24, when the district hosted a naturalization ceremony for the second time. The first time the district hosted the ceremony was in 2020, and many of the 28 new citizens had waited more than five years for this event.


“Students being able to see individuals become United States citizens and participate in this ceremony truly speaks to our motto of creating lifelong learners, leaders and global citizens,” said Superintendent John Luthringer. 

Honorable Daniel J. Stewart, United States Magistrate Judge of the United District Court for the Northern District of New York, presided over the event. Gwynn Dinolfo, Field Office Director, New York Senator Daniel G. Stec, and. Assemblyman Matthew Simpson, also attended the ceremony.

“It was a seven-year long journey to get here and then another five years to become a citizen,” said Mary Mitzi Hallares Eleterio, an ICU nurse from the Philippines. “This whole process was overwhelming, and I am proud of my new citizenship.”

The ceremony included presentations by the Lake George Jr.-Sr. Band and Chorus, and the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Student Council President Alexis Pape.

“The last time I participated in this ceremony was in 2020 and I was in the band. Getting the opportunity to speak and say the Pledge of Allegiance was such an honor and watching people become United States citizens was incredible,” said Alexis.

Melanie Palmer and Veleisha Gilet, both from Jamaica, also rejoiced in their new citizenship. “I came to the United States as a student in 2011, and I am now an 8th grade ELA teacher in Albany,” said Gilet. “I am so excited. This was a long time coming.”

Freshman Aazrum Tarar spoke about her own personal connection to the ceremony. “My parents came to the United States in 2001 and became citizens the year I was born in 2008. I found the ceremony powerful, knowing that if I had been born in my parents' home country I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now. Being a first-generation American, you realize how lucky you are to be here and this ceremony encapsulated the American spirit,” said Aazrum.

Senator Stec praised the 28 new citizens for their perseverance, hard-work, and tenacity. Judge Stewart also congratulated every individual as they received their certificates of naturalization, noting that each one was an inspiration to the entire room, their friends, and their families.