Canes court new citizens

‘I HEREBY DECLARE’: The Hon. Judge James M. Hopkins had new applicants for American citizenship raise their right hands as he read the Oath of Allegiance during the naturalization ceremony that Inlet Grove Hurricanes attended Oct. 27 at the Paul G. Rodgers Federal Courthouse in West Palm Beach.

Earrings, shoes, belts, purses and even visitors’ phones were taken and put in a bin by security staff before members of the Inlet Grove Student Government Association (SGA) could enter the courtroom of the Hon. Judge James M. Hopkins, U.S. magistrate judge for the Southern District of Florida.

The Hurricanes were at the Paul G. Rodgers Federal Courthouse in West Palm Beach on Oct. 27, to better understand how the Judicial Branch of American government functions.

The SGA members were participating in a naturalization ceremony, during which new Americans take the Oath of Allegiance for their final step in becoming U.S. citizens.

Judge Hopkins asked the students to stand and introduce themselves by saying “Good morning Your Honor,” along with their name and grade level.

They were shown a video that emphasized that the role of the Judicial Branch is to interpret the law.

The bishop of the court then escorted Hurricanes and Judge Hopkins to the main courtroom to proceed with the ceremony.

Four students from the Forest Hill High School JROTC program presented the colors. The National Anthem was sung by the Hurricanes’ Kennedi English – prompting Judge Hopkins’ comment: “That was the best version of the National Anthem I’ve heard in a while.”

The judge then asked the citizenship applicants to remain standing and raise their right hands while he read the Oath of Allegiance.

The Canes’ Gregory Dozier was called to lead everyone in the Preamble, followed by Cameron Henthorn who led the Pledge of Allegiance.

The JROTC concluded with the resting of the colors. After a round of applause, Cameron Baker, associate of the Federal Bar Association, welcomed the new citizens.

There was a presentation of welcoming letters from Hurricane students Tanoy Thames, Deilyn Mendez-Lopez and Myiah Beasley.

West Palm Beach attorney Rosalyn Baker-Barnes explained to the new Americans and court staff that the SGA members were participating in order to get the experience of a naturalization ceremony. Baker-Barnes, who recently was elected president of the Palm Beach Bar Association, is the sister of Moses Baker, dean of Inlet Grove students.

The day ended with closing remarks by Judge Hopkins and congratulations to the new citizens of the United States.

“I thought it was beautiful,” said Judge Hopkins’ wife, Patricia Lowry. “I felt having the students contributing gave the citizens new hope. It gave them the real American experience.”

“Emotional, I felt very emotional,” said Ebru Morales from Turkey.

“It was overwhelming, very sweet,” said Litha Mimfort. “I had a lot of fun. I really like that girl who sang the national anthem.”

“I am very happy that I went to this ceremony,” said the Canes’ Calette Sainvilus. “It gave me an inside look on what these people go through.”