Students from Deer Creek Prairie Vale Elementary School in Edmond, Oklahoma, lined the hallways chanting “USA! USA!” as Cuban-born Yanet Vilamontes López walks by.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 30, 2022. It has since been updated.
It is definitely a moment of celebration for immigrants when they manage to get U.S. citizenship, especially with the difficulties many immigrants of color have had in gaining naturalization. A heartwarming video has gained attention after it was posted on Reddit's popular subreddit r/MadeMeSmile recently and garnered about 50,000 upvotes in just one day. The video, titled, "Students and staff at an Oklahoma elementary school lined the hallways to cheer for their school cafeteria manager who passed her test to become a U.S. citizen," showcased the cafeteria manager carrying a small U.S. flag and tearing up as students of the school cheered her for the accomplishment.
Students from Deer Creek Prairie Vale Elementary School in Edmond, Oklahoma, lined up the hallways chanting “USA! USA!” as Cuban-born Yanet Vilamontes López walked by. The video, originally posted on the school's Facebook page, was captioned, "A HUGE SHOUTOUT to Ms. Yanet, our sweet cafeteria manager, who passed her test to become a US citizen!!! HOORAY!!!"
Michelle Anderson, the principal of the school, who took the video told Newsweek that Lopez, who has worked there for three years, was unaware that she was about to be celebrated by the whole school for her success. "I sent the school nurse down there [to Lopez] and I said, 'hey, go get miss Yanet and I'm going to get everybody out in the hall,'" Anderson said. "So she [the nurse] went down there and said, 'Hey, Michelle needs you.' And it was like, 'Am I in trouble?' and the nurse said, 'No, you're not in trouble I need you to come with me,' and by the time they got out to the hall, the kids were out in the hall clapping."
Students and staff at the Deer Creek Prairie Vale Elementary School celebrated their cafeteria manager Ms. Yanet Lopez after she passed her U.S. citizenship test. https://t.co/jJUZmGzAYz pic.twitter.com/puJhArN5CL— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) April 9, 2021
The cafeteria manager, extremely emotional by the support the students extended, told KOCO, “All the students give me hugs. It was exciting. I was crying like a baby, and the teachers were crying.” López, her husband, and their three children passed the exam in April 2021. “When I was a child, I have a dream, like, say, Martin Luther King, right? My dream was to come here to this great country,” she said. “I know everything about the United States, presidents. Everything is amazing. I know … I learn a lot of history,” Lopez said. “I love this country.”
Lopez was surprised by the celebration, but Principal Anderson claimed that Lopez also stunned the school by keeping it a secret that she would be taking her citizenship test. The celebration, according to Principal Anderson, was the cutest thing she had ever seen. "She ended up finding out on Monday that she passed it, and we were all just so thrilled to pieces," Anderson said. "One of the things that we'd love to do at our school is celebrating people's accomplishments, whether it be the kids or the staff, or the school in general."
According to Anderson, Lopez is loved at Prairie Vale Elementary and the institution works hard to help its community. “She’s a joy to have on my staff,” Anderson said. “I was crying. So proud of her. She’s part of our family,” Anderson said. "Every morning Ms. Yanet walks into the office and proclaims 'Good Morning, Pretty Ladies' and with a smile and a laugh, she always starts the day with a positive message!," a post written by Anderson on the school's Facebook page read. "I am so excited for Ms. Yanet and the realization of one of her dreams of passing her citizenship test! We laughed that she would know more than those of us born in the US. I am honored to work with one best US citizens I know!"