Sanger Unified teacher becomes US citizen at school

FRESNO, Calif.

Rebecca MacAlpine can officially call herself an American after she and her family took the oath of citizenship at Fairmont Elementary School Friday morning. The seventh and eighth grade math teacher came to the Central Valley from Canada in 1999.

"I feel so blessed and so humbled to be part of this experience," said Rebecca MacAlpine. "And to get to share it with my family I just feel like it's something that I'll never forget."

Naturalization ceremonies typically involve hundreds of people packed into arena sized buildings. This time the Department of Homeland Security honored just four people. But Fresno Field Office Director Charles Harrell says the officer who interviewed MacAlpine has ties to Fairmont.

Harrell said, "We thought it would be a unique opportunity to come back to his home school, do a ceremony in front of the student body and some of the students so they have an idea of citizenship."

The latest statistical data available shows at least 675 thousand people became naturalized citizens in each of the past three years. Becoming an American citizen is a lengthy process and no one knows that more than MacAlpine and the Hull family.

"So becoming a citizen you can't just up and decide you want to become one," said MacAlpine. "You have to live here for a certain amount of time. You have to go through lots of paperwork."

The wait MacAlpine says, was totally worth it. And being an educator she feels Friday's ceremony served as a teaching moment to these young and impressionable students.

"I think not a lot of the students get to experience this because a lot of them were born here," said MacAlpine. "And so I think for them to really be able to on a different level, with any of their relatives who do go through with this. I think that's really special and something that they'll never forget."

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