Students at a McLean elementary school got quite the civics lesson Wednesday. A sixth grade teacher at Kent Gardens Elementary School was one of 19 individuals to become U.S. citizens during a special naturalization ceremony at the school.
Principal Robin Hooker says, "and for our youngsters to see how this all becomes a true, authentic melting pot is just an awesome message."
The entire school attended the ceremony, featuring their very own Richard Gordon.
Sixth grader Natalie Ruffner says, "Well, I liked when they called everybody up. Mr. Gordon looked so happy."
"I'm very excited to become an American citizen. It's been a while in coming, but I'm very proud, and I know my family is proud," Gordon says. "...hopefully, my students are proud."
Gordon immigrated from Australia nearly 20 years ago. Last July, he decided to apply for American citizenship.
"It was a long process for him, and it was a personal journey and he was finally ready to become a citizen," Gordon's daughter, Stephanie, explains.
In class, Gordon shared his immigration experience with his students, even allowing them to quiz him on citizenship exam questions.
Gordon says, " ...we went to the website, and we downloaded all the questions and throughout the year I've been questioning them about what it takes to become an American citizen. And they've been questioning me about citizenship questions....We've had a great time. They've been a great help to me."
The 19 individuals naturalized Wednesday represented 18 different nations from every continent in the world.
"Happy. Happy today! Happy today," 87-year-old Halima Farah exclaims.
Farah is from Somalia. After waiting so many years to become a U.S. citizen, she could not wait for the 9 a.m. ceremony.
"You know what time we got here? 7:20," Farah laughs.
School staff welcomed the opportunity to host the event. After all, Kent Gardens' student body includes nearly 50 different nationalities and cultures.
Hooker says, "We consider ourselves a little United Nations, it is a global society. It really is."
See more of Mike Conneen's interview with Farah below.