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Spears Honors New American Citizen (Nov 5, 2007)

Dr. Rick Reedy, Martha Moroch and John Tomasko celebrate with Maria FranciscoMaria Francisco says her favorite piece of American history is the story of the creation of the Declaration of Independence. And when she took her citizenship test a few weeks ago she had to explain how this important part of our history developed and its importance to our country.

Studying for her citizenship exam, she learned many of the same lessons her youngest children are learning this year as eighth graders at Staley. “When I was studying, they said – Mama, our teacher asked us that, too.”

Maria is a cashier at Otis Spears Elementary School. She and her family moved to the United States in 1997 when her husband was offered a job to work for the Ericsson Incorporated. They are originally from the Philippines but have also lived in Saudi Arabia.  Ericsson sponsored and assisted the family in the processing of their residency card. This has opened the opportunity for them to apply for their citizenship.

Maria was studying business in college in the Philippines when her husband, Jimmy, was transferred to Saudi Arabia. She only lacked a few hours for her degree. She says studying for the citizenship exam “was not difficult, it was like studying for a class.” She also explained that English is the common language used in schools in her native country, so she did not have a lot difficulty with language.

Becoming a citizen of the United States has been an important goal for the entire Francisco family. Maria received her lawful permanent residency document or “green card” in 2002, which allowed her to work for FISD and begin her road to becoming a citizen. Her oldest daughter, Sherene Joyce, 19, is a graduate of Frisco High School, and she also took and passed the citizenship exam last August. Maria and Jimmy passed the examination in the morning of October 19, and the officer working with them explained that a group was going to take the oath of citizenship that afternoon. "We went home and changed clothes and came back and joined them," Maria explained, "it was so fast."

Back at Spears Francisco’s boss, John Tomasko, and the other cafeteria employees had been encouraging her all along. They were very proud of her for choosing to be a United States Citizen and to pledge her loyalty to this country. Tomasko and Principal Martha Moroch planned a special surprise for her.

“I was back here in the morning and he (Tomasko) told me someone needed talk to me outside. I walked over to the door and there he was! Dr. Reedy! He wanted to talk to me!” Francisco explained, still shocked that the head of the school district would take time to come talk to someone who works in the cafeteria. “He is up here,” she said using her hands to explain, “and I am down here.”

Reedy had come to Spears to congratulate Maria, a meeting planned in secret by Tomasko and Moroch.  Tomasko is still grinning about the fact he was able to carry off the visit from Dr. Reedy without Maria finding out. “This was just great,” he said.

“We are so proud of Maria,” says Moroch. It was a wonderful opportunity for Spears students to see first hand the dedication involved in choosing to become a United States citizen, she said. “When I explained Maria’s accomplishment to all of the students, they cheered!”