Suburban Elementary School Students Celebrate Beloved Guardian Becomes US Citizen – NBC Chicago
Leo Magalang works as a caretaker at Charles Reed Elementary in suburban Plainfield, and last week he got the surprise of his life when he was sworn in as a United States citizen.
When Magalang returned to work the day after the ceremony, students and teachers embraced him with an incredible celebration of his big day.
“It was overwhelming, heartwarming, and I feel so loved,” he cried. “So loved.”
Students and teachers line the halls of the school in surprise, waving American flags to celebrate their beloved guardian and friend.
“I just walked in as usual, but when I opened the door, the kids were already shouting, ‘Leo! Leo! Leo!'” he said. “I was so touched.”
Cellphone video captured the moments Magalang walked through the halls, unable to contain his emotions.
“I was crying all the time,” he said. “It’s a good thing we have the mask because if we don’t they might see my ugly face when I cry.”
The 64-year-old and his family immigrated from the Philippines hoping to have a chance at a better life.
“The United States has given us the opportunity to be here, to reside here, to work here and to have a better life,” he said.
Charles Reed’s manager said they wanted to do something special for Magalang to show they care and appreciate him. In addition to the loud and fun celebration, the students also wrote notes and messages to her.
“We are just happy that we did something to make him feel good and there is so much craziness in the world itself and here at school there have been so many challenges,” said the director Curtis Hudson. “We take every opportunity we can to celebrate and that was a great reason to celebrate.”
“You should do your best to strive for excellence in whatever you do, ultimately the people around the people you serve will love you,” he added.