Saturday 5 February 2022

Cheering schoolchildren celebrate custodian after he becomes US citizen

 School children in Plainfield, Illinois, clapped, cheered, and waved American flags in a surprise celebration for a custodian at their school who became a legal citizen of the United States last week.

Leo Magalang, a night janitor at Charles Reed Elementary school, received a rock star's reception when he showed up for work on Jan. 25, the day after his naturalization ceremony.

When he walked through the front door of the building, he was enthusiastically greeted by the entire school, as students had lined up to welcome him and cheer for him.

"Leo, Leo, Leo!" the children shouted, as he made his way through the building, waving to the crowd.

“It was overwhelming, heartwarming, and I feel so loved,” he told WMAQ-TV, becoming emotional. “So loved.”

The hallways were lined with students and teachers waving American flags to celebrate their friend.

“I just came in as usual, but when I opened the door the kids were already shouting, 'Leo! Leo! Leo!'” Magalang said. “I was so touched.”

The touching moment was captured on cellphone video and shared on social media.

“I was crying the whole time,” he said. “It’s a good thing we have the mask because if we don’t they could see my ugly face when I cry.”

Magalang, 64, emigrated from the Philippines with his family hoping to find a better life in the United States.

“The U.S. has given us an opportunity to be here, reside here, and to work here and for a better life,” he said.

Charles Reed Elementary principal Curtis Hudson told WMAQ the school wanted to do something special for Magalang to show that they care for him and appreciate the work he does. In addition to the surprise greeting, the children wrote him notes and messages

“We’re just happy that we did something to make him feel good, and there’s so much craziness going on in the world itself and here in school there’s been so many challenges,” said Hudson. “We take every opportunity we can to celebrate, and that was a good reason to celebrate.”

People on social media celebrated the heartwarming video.

"This is the best thing I've seen all week," said one Twitter user who shared it.

"#NFTs are worthless. THIS is a well earned and priceless reward," said another. "This is how we are great. I was born here by accident. Like so many millions of others, he earned his right to be called a US citizen."

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