Illinois students celebrate 8th grader's citizenship

He came in a month ago because he was taking his oath of citizenship, and when he returned, they did a "Hallway High Five".

Thanks to social media, we see all sorts of videos posted online. Last week, a video from Aviston, Illinois, caught our attention. As we found out, the story behind it is about the American dream.

At first glance, video of a young man running through a group of kids getting high-fives looks like just another smartphone video posted to social media. But look closer, and you'll see a story about so much more. Tami Kampwerth is the Superintendent at Aviston Elementary School.



"Joe's been here since second grade, his family immigrated from the Philippines and he's been one of our students for quite a long time," said Kampwerth.

Joe Bacal is an 8th grader at Aviston Elementary School, and a kid of few words.

"I was surprised I didn't know they were going to do that, yeah, like yeah," said Joe.

"He came in about a month ago with a note that he was going to be absent for a day because he was taking his oath of citizenship," said Kampwerth. "So we thought that was pretty cool."

"They hugged me, they were like you should be more happy, you shouldn't be worried about homework," said Joe.

So while Joe was away becoming an official U.S. citizen, teachers and classmates hatched a plan.

"I told the rest of the kids we're going to do a hallway high-five after our fire drill," said Kampwerth. "A hallway high-five is what we do here when we want to congratulate people or wish them good luck."

Joe's classmates and everyone at the school wore red, white and blue, then lined up for the big surprise.  Harry Mondt is one of Joe's buddies.

"I've been friends with Joe and I didn't even know that he wasn't a citizen," said Mondt.

When the fire drill ended, the hands went up and students celebrated Joe's achievement.

"Three-hundred and eighty-five kids and all of his teachers," said Kampwerth. "It was very special, we're very proud of him."

"He was smiling the whole time while everybody gave him the high five, so I guess he was really happy that everybody did that for him," said Mondt.

An act of patriotism by his classmates that Joe won't soon forget.

"It felt good, it felt nice that they did it," said Joe.

And one of the best reasons, there could be to miss a day of class.

"Absolutely, you're always welcome to take a day off to become a citizen at Aviston Elementary School," said Kampwerth.

Joe's parents took the oath of citizenship a month before he did.  Joe says his family came to America for a better education and a better life.


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