40 new citizens take naturalization oath at Riverside High

Forty new citizens are sworn in at a naturalization ceremony at Riverside High School. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens gathered Wednesday at Riverside High School to take part in a special milestone: becoming U.S. citizens.

Representing 29 different countries, they took the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance as students from the high school took part in the ceremony.

A student led the new citizens in their first pledge of allegiance and the JROTC unit presented each applicant for citizenship.

One new citizen, who has already been serving in the U.S. Navy, said the citizenship process was long, but now that it’s official, it will help him further his military career.

“A lot of paperwork goes through it. Military does help with it, there are people that are going to help you, show you the way, what paperwork you need to fill out. But overall, it’s a long process,” Aryan Saphir said. “There are a lot of things like security clearance you can’t really get, top-secret clearance. If you want to go after that in the military, if you’re not a U.S. citizen, so this actually means a lot.”

Saphir said he moved to the U.S. at age 14 and wanted to earn his citizenship, so Wednesday was a big day for him.

Forty new citizens are sworn in at a naturalization ceremony at Riverside High School. (WJXT)

It was also a big day for the other 39 applicants for citizenship, who were celebrated by more than 400 students in the school’s auditorium.

“Each time I administer the Oath,” Chief Judge Timothy Corrigan said, “I am reminded of the significant commitments new citizens make to our country and the time they have taken to understand our democracy and how it works.”

Holding naturalization ceremonies in a school setting provides the opportunity for the Court to involve students in the ceremony and bring a courtroom into the school, the district court said in a news release about the event.

To end the ceremony, the Riverside combined choruses -- over 125 voices -- performed “America the Beautiful.”

About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.