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Students Celebrate Lunchroom Worker After Becoming US Citizen

LAYTON, Utah — For the past year, Carina Rios had been studying to become a citizen of the United States. She and her husband, who are Argentina natives, started the application process a month before the pandemic hit.

“It probably was not the best year to do it,” Rios laughed. “But before we never had the idea to become citizens, you know? We just keep putting it aside. But when we decided to do it, we just started studying.”

Rios is part of the lunchroom staff at Ellison Park Elementary. With the help of coworkers, she found time to study for her naturalization test during breaks at work.

“When we would sit down for lunch, she would get her phone out and she would put it onto YouTube that had videos with all the questions and so we would go through it with her,” said Beverley Larson, a fellow lunchroom staff member.

Their hard work payed off and at the beginning of April, Rios’ citizenship was made official through a letter.

“We were so excited to get the news,” she said.

It was news that her school family wanted to celebrate in a unique way since COVID restrictions prevented her from having and official celebration ceremony.

“When I learned that Carina wasn’t going to get the same thing, I just wanted to make it special for her,” Larson said.

The school staff and students made up for it by surprising Rios, lining the hallways and singing the Star-Spangled Banner as she walked through campus.

“Seeing the kids with their hands on the chest, you know, singing, they made me feel so special,” she said.

It was a heartfelt way to celebrate her hard work on and off campus.

“That was so amazing! I just feel like they care,” Rios said.

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