A naturalization ceremony conducted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, with the support of the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and Citizenship Counts, will be hosted Thursday, Oct. 18, at Edgewater High School in Orlando.

The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is a civic education partnership between the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida. Citizenship Counts is a national nonprofit organization based in Phoenix.

Fifty people from 23 countries will be sworn in as U.S. citizens during the ceremony. Frey, a former Florida congressman and founder of the institute, will speak about the value of American citizenship, what America means to him and the importance of giving back to the community.

During the past 10 years the institute has received national and international recognition for its efforts in promoting the development of responsible and engaged citizens.

Ruth Dorochoff, the District Director of USCIS District 10, will administer the oath of allegiance.

Orange County Public School partnered with the two citizenship groups to create an experiential learning opportunity for students in the district to educate them about the naturalization process and give them an opportunity to participate in a naturalization ceremony.

Janie Phelps, K-12 social studies specialist, said the program will allow Orange students “to observe citizenship in the making.”

“While not every student will be able to attend the actual ceremony, we will be able to share lesson plans from Citizenship Counts and will have created a video of the ceremony that we can stream to schools,” she said. “This partnership with Citizenship Counts and Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is making citizenship a reality for thousands of OCPS students.”

The Citizenship Counts lesson plan explains the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens and encourages them to appreciate and celebrate diversity in their classroom and community. The program inspires students by providing an opportunity to participate in the democratic process while building a better understanding of the value and responsibilities of citizenship.

Their studies culminate with students assisting with an official naturalization ceremony, the important moment when foreign nationals pledge allegiance to this country and take on all of the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.

“No matter what else we do in life, we are all citizens of this republic and each of us has both the rights and the responsibilities that come with that citizenship,” said Dr. Doug Dobson, executive director for the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship. “In a busy and changing world, it is easy to take the privileges of citizenship for granted and to put off the responsibilities. Working with Citizenship Counts and Orange County Public Schools to teach the lessons of citizenship in the classroom and experience the gravity of an actual naturalization ceremony has provided a way to crystalize the true importance of their status as citizens for hundreds of OCPS students.”

The ceremony will start at 11 a.m. at Edgewater.